The Dean - The Very Revd Andrew Nunn
1 Kings 2.10-12; 3.16-28; Acts 4.1-22
“You, you who have listened to the story of the Chalk Circle, take note of what men of old concluded: That what there is shall go to those who are good for it. Children to the motherly, that they prosper, carts to good drivers, that they be driven well, the valley to the waterers, that it yield fruit.”
The German playwright, Bertolt Brecht, takes the story of the wisdom of Solomon and recasts it as a powerful political play, ‘The Caucasian Chalk Circle’ with which the words of I have just quoted, concludes.
It’s a play not just about the rights of motherhood but about justice and how wisdom can be found even in a grotesque drunken figure like the judge Azdak who doesn’t believe in impartiality. It’s not a laugh a minute as a play but it delivers a powerful and memorable punch.
Whether it’s King Solomon sitting in judgement or the apostles speaking and healing in the name of the Lord Jesus, there’s wisdom around and that wisdom comes from God. And truth and wisdom are unstoppable.
What I find so powerful in the Second Lesson is the confidence and the ‘unstopability’ of the apostles in the face of such intense pressure. This story comes from the beginning of the book of the Acts of the Apostles. Filled with the Spirit, ecstatic, blown by wind and flame from the Upper Room, Peter stands and preaches in a way that all understand. Then going into the Temple, through the Beautiful Gate, the man who sits there, day in and day out, is healed. Peter and John have spoken, they’ve acted and the combination makes the authorities realise that they have to clamp down, suppress this immediately, otherwise it’ll all get out of hand.
So they have Peter and John arrested and thrown into prison. We hear how they’re then asked about what they’ve been doing and Peter, fearless, says those powerful words
‘There is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among mortals by which we must be saved.’
There is no other name but the name of Jesus by which we must, must, be saved.
The writer goes on to tell us that they then said to their accusers
‘We cannot keep from speaking about what we have seen and heard.’
Whatever pressure they were under, whatever threats against them were made, silence wasn’t an option, just like Solomon in judgement had to speak words of wisdom, for which he would be renowned, just like even Brecht’s corrupt judge couldn’t stop himself doing the right thing.
We are witnesses to God, we each have a story to tell, wisdom to share. We cannot, we shouldn’t be silenced. Whatever the pressures on the church she has to speak in the name of Jesus for there is no other name under heaven by which we must be saved. It is an imperative, there is no real option, for we must work with God to give
“Children to the motherly, that they prosper, carts to good drivers, that they be driven well, the valley to the waterers, that it yield fruit.”