August 30, 2020

Adult Bible Study Online

A current connection to each week's session


Two Kinds of Wisdom
James 3:13-18; 5:7-11

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The wisdom story of this 13-week study has taken us through the sacred texts of Proverbs to the Gospels to the epistle of James. It has been varied and nuanced, but here in the last session I see clearly that it has also been steadfast. James 3 echoes the earliest words of Proverbs that we examined and discerned together. Woman Wisdom, who cried out atop the wall (Proverbs 1:21), still reaches out to others “full of mercy and good fruit” (James 3:17). As Gordon Matties emphasizes throughout the study, despite the many faces of wisdom, she is always defined by a reaching out to others, calling us “to build a wise community, not just be wise as individuals” (ABS, p. 79).

This notion of the “wise community,” a version of Dr. King’s “beloved community,” is counter to so much in the world that is individualist, egotistical, and self-oriented. The “wise, beloved community” is certainly a radical priority in the world, and it is assailed often—threatened and challenged by COVID-19, political partisanship, war, racism, hate. But it is a stunning reminder of God’s grace and the pull into that grace that surrounds us all. The wise community not only survives but thrives. For you, that community may be the friends you have found or fostered in this study. It may be those you worship with every Sunday, masks on or by a livestream. It may be the students who come to your class ready and eager to learn despite hunger or fear or distraction. It may be the coworkers who surprise you and support you both with their resilience and their vulnerability. It may be those virtual strangers with whom you’ve marched or shouted in a plea for justice.

For me, the body of the wise—those who long to be wise—allows the patient endurance Matties describes at the end of this study, the endurance that can “open us . . . to [see] things differently—from a divine point of view—when we receive the gift of wisdom” (ABS, p. 79). May it be so.

  • As you review this quarter’s study, what encouraged you to continue seeking God’s wisdom, in your life and for your congregation’s ministries?

We are grateful to Kerry for her timely and relevant examples of God’s wisdom that are available to us in many ways.

This study marks the end of an era! For approximately 70–90 years, The International Bible Lessons for Christian Teaching (Uniform Series) provided the outlines for Adult Bible Study. MennoMedia is introducing Salt & Light: Bible Study for Anabaptist Christians as our new Bible study curriculum. Our fall study is “Joining God: Relationship and Worship,” written by Carol Duerksen, David Morrow, and Gwen Groff. See www.MennoMedia.org/SL for online articles and other resources.

—Kerry Hasler-Brooks, kerry.hasler.brooks@gmail.com

© 2020

Kerry Hasler-Brooks is a professor of American Literature at Messiah College, Grantham, Pennsylvania. She researches and teaches at the intersections of race, gender, literature, and vocation and has written on diverse American women writers like Harriet Beecher Stowe, Maria Ruiz de Burton, Katherine Anne Porter, Toni Morrison, and Edwidge Danticat. She lives on an organic vegetable farm run by her husband, Nathan; loves to explore in the fields and woods with their two young children; and recently joined the 300-year-old community at Salford Mennonite Church, Harleysville, Pennsylvania, where she is learning to hear and practice anew the call of Jesus to radical peace, love, and welcome.

This article supplements Adult Bible Study, a quarterly Bible curriculum for adults. Adult Bible Study provides in-depth, challenging Bible study from an Anabaptist-Mennonite perspective, written by an intercultural group of pastors, teachers, professors, and leaders across Canada and the United States. Sessions include daily Bible readings, resources for additional study, and free downloadable resources.

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