Ode to a Faithful Church: Rewriting Proverbs 31

Every 3 years the Church reads Proverbs 31, which is a beautiful and misused passage. Three years ago, I spent time talking with parishioners about how this passage, used as a hymn of praise from a Jewish husband to his wife, would sound if we reworked it to be a song from Christ to his bride the Church. Afterward I rewrote the passage. Then it got lost in computer crash. And now it’s three years later (apparently pandemic years actually count) and the passage is up in the lectionary again.
And I really still like the idea. I’m not preaching this Sunday so I went back and listened to that conversation (about the first ten minutes of the recording) and re-rewrote the passage.

A capable church who can find?
    She is far more precious than jewels.
The heart of her saviour trusts in her,
    And the kingdom will advance.
She does good, and not harm,
    All the days of her life.
She seeks peace and justice
    And works with willing hands
She is acquainted with distance,
    she calls to her people from far away.
 Praises rise while it is still night
    and sustaining those who doubt
    and offering comfort to those who labour.
She considers a field and buys it;
    with the fruit of her hands she plants a vineyard.
She girds herself with wisdom,
    and makes her arms strong.
She perceives that her message is salvation.
    Her lamp does not go out at night.
She puts her effort to supporting strangers,
    and her heart holds the Good News.
She opens her hand to the poor,
    and reaches out her hands to the needy.
She is there for her children and neighbours in disaster,
   Offering comfort and aide
She makes herself beautiful in holiness;
    her clothing is fine linen and purple.
Her Saviour is known in the city,
    taking his seat beside God in Heaven.
She makes garments and sells them;
    she supplies the needy with clothes.
Strength and dignity are her clothing,
    and she laughs at the time to come.
She opens her mouth with wisdom,
    and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.
She looks well to the ways of her household,
    and does not eat the bread of idleness.
Her children rise up and call her happy;
    Jesus Christ too, and he praises her:
‘Many have done excellently,
    and you show my glory.’
Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain,
    but a Church who fears the Lord is to be praised.
Give her a share in the fruit of her faith,
    and let her works praise her in the Kingdom of God.

Prov 31, rewritten by Robyn King

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An Anglican/Episcopal priest, bibliophile, dog owner, and Montanan

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