Seventeenth Sunday after Trinity - Evensong

  • Preacher

    Canon Missioner - Revd Canon Jay Colwill

  • Readings

    Prov 2 1; John 2

It’s a privilege to be preaching on the occasion of the installation of four honorary canons


For each one of you, you have many decisions for which you need wisdom. They may relate to your personal, family or church life. You have pastoral, priestly and leadership responsibilities that you need to hold in tension. For us as a congregation, we all need deep wisdom to navigate these uncertain times. In our Bible readings, both old and new, the theme is how can we act wisely?

When I was preparing for this sermon, a quick search on the subject of COVID-19 & wisdom much nonsense! However, it also brought to my attention a helpful article by the US journal Psychology Today. They defined wisdom as a uniquely human and complex personality trait comprised of several specific components, including empathy and compassion, self-reflection and insight, emotional regulation, decisiveness in the midst of uncertainty, and spirituality.

This blend of practical, spiritual and emotional knowledge and understanding is conveyed in our readings today. When combined, Proverbs 2 and 1 John 2 are a rich resource for reflection on wisdom. But how do we act wisely?

Wisdom begins with humility.

The writer of proverbs repeated uses the word ‘if’. If you. In other words, you don’t have to. You can go your own way. Similarly, John reminds the church that we may sin. If and when we did, we need to have the humility to come back to Jesus and seek repentance. Wisdom begins with humility, especially in these COVID- times. There is much that we don’t know or understand. That doesn’t mean we are passive stop wanting to learn. Rather, we humbly recognise that we are not above the Creator or created order. We are part of the created order. Proverbs calls this ‘the fear of the LORD’

Wisdom grows with integrity.

If we are wise, our actions will match our words and vice versa. Wise people aren’t the fitted strongest, wealthiest or most talented. Wise people lived integrated lives- lives of integrity. I’ve had some very fine role models in my life. I’m very fortunate. Most of them have been quietly spoken people who practice what they preach, do what they say. This is what John means when he says: 9Whoever says, ‘I am in the light’, while hating a brother or sister, is still in the darkness. 10Whoever loves a brother or sister lives in the light, and in such a person there is no cause for stumbling. 

So, let me ask you a question, which I’ve been asking myself since I wrote this- how are you ensuring that your actions and words, match up? What about your thoughts and feelings? In other words are you, am I a person of integrity?

Wisdom looks to eternity.

If Wisdom begins with humility, grows through integrity, it looks to eternity. The prayer of St. Augustine is echoed in this prayer:

Almighty God, you have made us for yourself,
and our hearts are restless till they find their rest in you:
pour your love into our hearts and draw us to yourself,
and so bring us at last to your heavenly city
where we shall see you face to face;


COVID-19 has reminded the western world of its’ mortality in a way that few other events have in 75 years. The church of Christ has hope to bring to a world that is losing hope. Christ has overcome death! Having an eternal perspective rooted in Christ inspires us all to live wisely. So, we don’t place our hope in worldly things. Rather we place it in God, who (as John says elsewhere) did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.

The world needs the wisdom of God like never before in my lifetime. The world needs Christians who seek wisdom. May we be amongst them. Let’s begin with humility, grow in integrity and fix our eyes on eternity- that we secure through Christ.