Lection Connection - Spirit Sightings

June 16, 2019

From Paul Turley


The Elders have just completed a visit to Ethiopia. They met with President Sahle-Work Zewde – currently the only female head of state in Africa – and with Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed. During their time in the country, they discussed the prime minister’s efforts to implement a wide range of political, economic, and social reforms, including appointing women to half his Cabinet posts and his pledge to strengthen democratic institutions.


The Elders did not avoid the problems that the nation faces, directly raising the question of internally displaced people. Credible humanitarian sources suggest up to three million people have been internally displaced over the past 12 months as ethno-political conflicts have erupted in different regions of Ethiopia. The Elders directly raised with the prime minister the reports that some people are currently being forced to return to their homes, and urged him to ensure that returns are voluntary, safe, and dignified.


Who are The Elders and what gives them the opportunity to speak to and be heard by national leaders around the world?


The Elders is an international non-governmental organisation of public figures noted as elder statesmen, peace activists, and human rights advocates. Begun by the late Nelson Mandela in 2007, on the urging and with the support of businessman Richard Branson and musician and human rights activist Peter Gabriel, The Elders have been chaired by Desmond Tutu, retired Archbishop of Cape Town South Africa, and by Kofi Annan, the seventh Secretary General of the United Nations. The current chair of The Elders is Mary Robinson, former President of Ireland and former United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights.


The Elders don’t wield power in the situations in which they work, they wield influence and they bring international attention to a problem and remind those engaged in issues that the world is watching.


It may be that The Elders with their individual and collective long experience of politics and peacemaking are a tangible experience of wisdom. The Elders are an international and high profile embodiment of our text: “Does not wisdom call, and does not understanding raise her voice? On the heights, beside the way, at the crossroads she takes her stand; beside the gates in front of the town, at the entrance of the portals she cries out.”


Explore…Proverbs 8:1–4, 22–31

  • Is there a difference between understanding and wisdom? How might you describe both?
  • In our text, wisdom is personified. What do you think the text means when it says, “The LORD created me at the beginning of his work, the first of his acts of long ago”?
  • What are you able to do in your faith community to foster wisdom?



God, our world runs on information and we often feel we are drowning in data. We have knowledge available to us in an instant, at the stroke of a finger on glass, but we know that wisdom does not arrive quickly. We know that wisdom requires time, attention, and contemplation. Help us to be a community of wisdom. Help us to listen. Help us to pay attention. Help us to be contemplative. Make us wise, O God. Amen.



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