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Sacred Wisdom for a Secular Age

Liam Thatcher explains what we can expect from our Autumn preaching series on Proverbs.

All of us want to know how to live well, to get the best out of our time here and to thrive in every area of our lives. How can we ensure our relationships are meaningful and healthy? How can we handle our emotions wisely? How should we think about money, work, parenting, and using our influence well?

These are not new questions, but ones people have wrestled with for millennia. So this Autumn we will be exploring some ancient answers to these important questions.

The book of Proverbs is an ancient spiritual text; a collection of sayings which contain principles that have helped people live wisely for thousands of years. It is an immensely practical book, but with a surprising spiritual claim: that the best way to thrive in the entirety of life is to connect with our Creator, and live as He intended.

In this series, Proverbs: Sacred Wisdom for a Secular Age, we will explore that claim, and consider God’s invitation to walk in the way of wisdom. Whether you are currently a follower of Jesus, or in the early stages of exploring faith, we hope you will find it to be an interesting and life-enriching series.

The talks will be staggered across our services, with different themes in each location from week to week. To find out what talks will be coming up in your service, check out the calendar which will be updated from early September. If you miss a week, you can catch up on the podcast, but you may want to check the calendar first, in case the talk is going to be repeated at your service.

You may find it helpful to read the book of Proverbs across the autumn. Because it’s a collection of sayings and it’s not arranged thematically, it can be a tough book to get into. The Bible Project has some great introductions to Wisdom Literature in general and Proverbs specifically, and Timothy Keller’s The Way of Wisdom is a year-long study of Proverbs, with a reflection for every day. You may find those helpful.

And here are three tips to bear in mind as you read the book, to help you know how to interpret it:

Proverbs are Poetic

If you try to read the proverbs literally, you will quickly get into a muddle. They are poetic; using metaphors, similes, exaggerated language and a whole load of literary devices to make their points – often in humorous ways. They are also deliberately worded in order to be memorable, rather than technically precise.You will get the most out of the Proverbs by enjoying them, allowing the images to play out in your mind, making you laugh, cry, reflect, and see yourself in them.

Proverbs are Practical

Proverbs are not exhaustive answers to big, theoretical questions. They are not designed to help you understand everything about life, the universe, and everything. Rather they are practical nuggets of wisdom about the challenges of day-to-day life. And in particular, about the day-to-day life of their original hearers. So they may need a bit of translation in order to apply the principles to our modern era!

Proverbs are Principles

This is not a collection of hard-and-fast legal guarantees from God. Proverbs are not promises, but principles that are generally the case. The blessings mentioned in this book are things you are likely to experience if you choose to follow the way of wisdom, but you are not promised automatic success, because we live in a complex world where things don’t always work out as we might hope.

This series will be starting at Stockwell, Central London and Bethnal Green on Sunday 2nd September, and in Covent Garden on Sunday 9th September.

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