Wisdom 2:1a, 12-24 – The Righteous Man Shows Up
Washington National Cathedral Noon Eucharist
March 11, 2015
On Sunday night, I went with our confirmation class – 10 middle schoolers –
to visit Guest House.
Guest House is a residence a couple of blocks from our church in Alexandria,
and we’ve had a good relationship with the women who live there for several years.
The women come to Guest House directly from prison.
They stay for 90 days and in that time they learn to live in community again,
as they find jobs, go back to school,
make amends with family, reconnect with children,
and work on maintain their sobriety – all in 90 days.
I was glad we could listen to some of their stories because
these women are truly remarkable –
they have reached rock bottom
and yet are the most hopeful people I’ve ever talked with.
They know what it is to experience death…
and they don’t want to go back.
In this passage of poetry from the book of Wisdom,
some individuals the author calls “ungodly” individuals
make friends with the figure of death.
“if you can’t beat him join him” –
so they grovel together in their hopelessness and despair.
They lie in wait for anyone who would dare challenge them –
for anyone who would dare say that death is anything but the end.
Our text for today says, they “lie in wait for the righteous man…
because he is inconvenient to us…
he opposes…” our despair.
Christians have taken this passage to be a reference to Jesus..
Jesus is the righteous man who opposes their despair;
Jesus is the one who claims knowledge of God and calls himself God’s son;
Jesus is the one whose manner of life is unlike others – whose ways are …well according to those who are speaking – his ways are strange!
What’s so strange about this Jesus?
He refuses to give in to death.
Those who have befriended death and despair aren’t looking for hope –
they’re looking for someone to agree with them.
Their looking for someone to say to them,
“You’re right…life is messed up and then we die;
It’s not worth it.
You’re not worth it.”
The women at Guest House heard similar words most of their lives.
Over and over again they got the message that they weren’t worth it…
that hope wasn’t real;
that the only thing to numb the pain were the drugs they used;
death was the only way out.
But at some point, for all of the women who spoke to us,
the righteous man showed up.
Jesus came to them and told them that he was a child of God –
and they were too.
That there is hope;
That death does not have the last word;
That resurrection and new life are real and possible!
It was strange for them –
their families and former friends tried to take them down again –
tried to take them back to death.
But this community of women at Guest House
all of whom had once experienced death themselves,
kept pointing them back to God who was calling them to life!
Perhaps you are experiencing a kind of death at the moment…
perhaps some hopelessness or despair.
If so, wait for the righteous man…
Jesus will show up for you too.