Oct 30 – Worship Service – Choosing Wisdom

Oct 23 – Worship Service – Consequences
October 25, 2022
Nov 6 – Worship Service – Hope – Backward and Forward
November 8, 2022

Oct 30 – Worship Service – Choosing Wisdom

Rev Lohnes

Sunday October 30, 2022

Life and Work of our Church

Introit                                                                                                                 #579
The church is wherever God’s people are praising,
singing God’s goodness for joy on this day.
The church is wherever disciples of Jesus
remember his story and walk in his way.
Carol Rose Ikeler 1959 © 1963 W.L. Jenkins. All Rights Reserved. Used and adapted by permission of Westminster John Knox Press. LicenSingOnline#605486

Acknowledging the Territory    
As we begin our worship, we take a moment to acknowledge that the land upon which we live, work and worship is, by law, the unceded territory of the Mi’kmaq people.  We offer our deep gratitude for this land and we commit ourselves to use and share this land wisely.   

Lighting the Christ Candle
And as we light our Christ Candle this morning, we are reminded that regardless of what is happening in the world around us, God’s Light and God’s Spirit are still here, actively at work in the world today.  Once again, we commit ourselves to follow and to share that light. 

Call to Worship
We gather here today seeking the wisdom of God.
We long to hear God’s Word spoken to our hearts.
We gather here today seeking God’s light and truth.
We long to learn the ways of wisdom and justice.
We gather here today seeking a Spirit-filled life.
We long to live lives of holiness and joy.
When we sincerely ask, God will grant God’s wisdom to all who seek it.
We come as people of God ready to worship in wisdom and in truth. 

Opening Prayer
God of holy wisdom, we are seekers on the way to a deeper wisdom and a wider vision.  Our lives are full of information and opinions, but in the midst of it all we long to hear the voice of wisdom – Your wisdom, God – cutting through the noise and teaching us how to live.  We have come here this morning to learn wisdom from your Word, from your Holy Spirit, and from one another.  We have come to hear and to respond to holy wisdom calling us out of the darkness of doubt and uncertainty into your light.  We have come seeking the deeper, richer, wisdom-filled life that you have promised to each of us.  Make us ready to hear the Words
spoken to our hearts this morning.  Call us to hear your wisdom and grant us the courage to respond.  Amen

Gift of Music               God of Grace and God of Glory                                #686

Scripture Reading
Last week we heard the story of David and Bathsheba.  Although it is a story that show the very human weakness of King David, it is also a story of tremendous grace, for it is from the union of David and Bathsheba that the successor to David, the wise King Solomon was born.  Solomon would eventually build the temple that was denied to David and would become, in many ways, an even greater King than his father.

Scriptures – 1 Kings 3:4-28                                         Good News Translation
On one occasion [Solomon] went to Gibeon to offer sacrifices because that was where the most famous altar was. He had offered hundreds of burnt offerings there in the past.  That night the Lord appeared to him in a dream and asked him, “What would you like me to give you?”

Solomon answered, “You always showed great love for my father David, your servant, and he was good, loyal, and honest in his relation with you. And you have continued to show him your great and constant love by giving him a son who today rules in his place.  Lord God, you have let me succeed my father as king, even though I am very young and don’t know how to rule.  Here I am among the people you have chosen to be your own, a people who are so many that they cannot be counted.  So give me the wisdom I need to rule your people with justice and to know the difference between good and evil. Otherwise, how would I ever be able to rule this great people of yours?”

The Lord was pleased that Solomon had asked for this, and so he said to him, “Because you have asked for the wisdom to rule justly, instead of long life for yourself or riches or the death of your enemies, I will do what you have asked. 

I will give you more wisdom and understanding than anyone has ever had before or will ever have again.  I will also give you what you have not asked for: all your life you will have wealth and honor, more than that of any other king.  And if you obey me and keep my laws and commands, as your father David did, I will give you a long life.”

Solomon woke up and realized that God had spoken to him in the dream. Then he went to Jerusalem and stood in front of the Lord‘s Covenant Box and offered burnt offerings and fellowship offerings to the Lord. After that he gave a feast for all his officials.

One day two prostitutes came and presented themselves before King Solomon.  One of them said, “Your Majesty, this woman and I live in the same house, and I gave birth to a baby boy at home while she was there.  Two days after my child was born, she also gave birth to a baby boy.  Only the two of us were there in the house—no one else was present.  Then one night she accidentally rolled over on her baby and smothered it.  She got up during the night, took my son from my side while I was asleep, and carried him to her bed; then she put the dead child in my bed.  The next morning, when I woke up and was going to nurse my baby, I saw that it was dead.  I looked at it more closely and saw that it was not my child.”

But the other woman said, “No! The living child is mine, and the dead one is yours!”

The first woman answered back, “No! The dead child is yours, and the living one is mine!”

And so they argued before the king.

Then King Solomon said, “Each of you claims that the living child is hers and that the dead child belongs to the other one.”  He sent for a sword, and when it was brought, he said, “Cut the living child in two and give each woman half of it.”

The real mother, her heart full of love for her son, said to the king, “Please, Your Majesty, don’t kill the child!  Give it to her!”

But the other woman said, “Don’t give it to either of us; go on and cut it in two.”

Then Solomon said, “Don’t kill the child! Give it to the first woman—she is its real mother.”

When the people of Israel heard of Solomon’s decision, they were all filled with deep respect for him, because they knew then that God had given him the wisdom to settle disputes fairly.

Choosing Wisdom
The wisdom of Solomon is famous.  Solomon was said to be the wisest of all kings.  It was also Solomon, and not his father David, who was given the honour of building God’s temple in Jerusalem.  But we always need to remember that, just like his father and just like us, Solomon was a normal flawed human being.

Although Solomon is renowned for his wisdom and for the justice of his rule, Solomon himself broke many of the very laws he sought to uphold.  Of his 1000 wives a majority were foreigners, and the laws of Israel strictly forbid marrying outside of the faith.  Not only that, but we are told that in his later years, Solomon began to worship some of the gods of his wives.  The very first commandment, the Shema, forbids the worship of any god but Yahweh.  And yet despite this, Solomon, like his father before him, did have moments of amazing greatness.  Shortly after becoming king, Solomon was offering sacrifices at the altar in Gideon.  This was before the temple in Jerusalem was built and sacrifices were generally offered at local altars or shrines and we are told the altar in Gideon was somehow special.  While there, Solomon had a dream or a vision in which God asked him what Solomon would most like God to give him.  This is not a gift like world peace or an end to poverty.  This is a personal gift that is for Solomon alone.

What would you wish for?  Would you wish for health and a long life, for love and contentment, for beauty or self-confidence?  Would you wish for enough money to pay off your debts so that you don’t have to worry about the future?  Would you wish for fame and fortune?  What would you most like to have?

Solomon asked for wisdom, but his request is very specific.  “I am very young and don’t know how to rule.  Here I am among the people you have chosen to be your own, a people who are so many that they cannot be counted.  So give me the wisdom I need to rule your people with justice and to know the difference between good and evil.

Solomon’s request was that God will help him to rule wisely over the people.  Perhaps, being young, Solomon lacked confidence in his own ability.  Perhaps he had witnessed too many questionable decisions made by others.  Or perhaps he believed that, since God had chosen him to be king, he needed God’s help and guidance to be the best king that he can be. 

Whatever the reason, Solomon asked for wisdom.  We are told that God was so pleased with Solomon’s request that Solomon was granted not only wisdom, but also wealth and honour.  And Solomon did indeed receive all these things.  His wealth and renown were famous.  He ruled the whole region west of the Euphrates River.  And not only did he build the temple in Jerusalem, but he also built Solomon’s palace, said to be among the most beautiful building ever constructed.

But it is the story that best depicts Solomon’s renowned wisdom, is the story of the dispute between two women.  The two women lived in the same house, and apparently, they live there alone.  Each one of them gives birth to a son, born within days of each other.  Shortly after his birth, when the mother rolls over in her sleep and accidentally smothered her child.  But the two women came to Solomon both claiming that the living child is theirs.

Now you need to remember that, at the time, women had no rights and no place in society other than that of a daughter, a wife or a mother.  Since these two women lived alone, it is clear that neither had a husband nor family to care for them.  If they were widows, their husband’s family would be responsible for them.  Because we are told they lived alone, it is most likely that they were prostitutes. 

For a such woman, the birth of a son would mean hope for the future.  Once a son grew to be a man, he would be expected to care for his mother.  Without a son, a woman would have no one to look after her in her old age.  She would have no home, no family and no way to survive beyond prostitution of begging.  This may be why both women were so intent on claiming the living child as their own.

Now there are several other things we need to remember about this story.  First, not only were these women, who had absolutely no standing under the law, but they were likely prostitutes.  They were the most marginalized and vulnerable people in that society.  The idea that the king himself would hear their petition, seems astonishing and it demonstrates Solomon’s determination to rule with justice.  For Solomon, it made no difference who these women were.  They came to him seeking justice and that is what he was determined to offer them.

I sometimes wonder if we do nearly as good a job of insuring justice for the marginalized and vulnerable as Solomon did.  We like to say that we live in a just society, but statistic show that a majority of those living in poverty, those who are incarcerated, and children who are put into foster care are from racialize groups.  And if convicted of a crime, statics show that a white person will serve less time than someone who is black, indigenous, or otherwise racially identified.

Yet when Solomon hears this case, there is no indication that he treats these two women any different than he would treat anyone else.  He listens to their arguments and appears to treat them with respect.  But after hearing what they have to say, Solomon makes an outlandish suggestion.  He suggests that if the two cannot determine whose child this truly is, the baby should be cut in half and half given to each woman.

Ridiculous as the suggestion may seem, it apparently had the desired result.  One of the women immediately begins to plead with the king to spare the life of the child.  If the only way the child can live is if it is given to the other woman, she would rather see that, then to have her son killed.  Her obvious love for the child convinces Solomon that she is the “true” mother.

It is interesting to me, that she is referred to as the “true” mother and not the biological mother.  It is the love expressed by this woman for a vulnerable and helpless infant that affirms her as the “true” mother.  Her willingness to give up her child rather than having him killed would cost her more than simply the life of that child.  It would also cost her any hope for a future where her son will be able to care for her.  By giving her son to the other woman, she might actually insure the other woman’s future at the expense of her own.  And so, seeing the depth of the love this woman has for the infant Solomon gives the child to her instead.

But how could Solomon know that the two women would not keep arguing?  And if they had kept arguing, would Solomon actually have cut the child in half?  The simple fact is that Solomon could not know.  But he trusted that it was not his decision, but God’s decision that mattered. 
It was not Solomon’s wisdom that made such a solution possible.  It was God’s Wisdom.  And this is the very wisdom that Solomon had prayed for from the beginning.  It was not earthly knowledge, logic or reasoning that Solomon asked for.  The wisdom Solomon sought was the intuitive, instinctual, unexplainable wisdom of God.

Solomon’s greatness, Solomon’s wisdom was only possible because he believed and trusted in God’s guidance.  That is why, despite all the other things that Solomon may have done, he will always be remembered for this moment of excellence, he will always be remembered for his deep wisdom.

And that is why, like Solomon, like David and like all those who truly try to follow God’s guidance, we too can experience those moment of greatness, those moments of Divine Wisdom.  They may not appear in huge public world altering ways, but those moments of Divine Wisdom or Divine inspiration will change us … if we have the courage to trust and to allow them to do so.  Amen

Gift of Music           Come and Seek the Ways of Wisdom                      MV#10

We Offer Our Gifts
In gratitude for all God has done for us, let us bring our offerings to God.  These offerings may be our financial gifts which we place on the offering plates or in our M&S piggy bank at the back of the church, or they may be gift we give online or through PAR.  Or our gifts may be the thing we do to use the talents that God has given us.  Whatever gifts we offer, let us bring them before God as we sing our offertory response.

Offertory Response                                                                                Tune # 549
For all your goodness God, we give you thanks.                                        
And so we offer you, all that we have and do,
To serve and honour you and give you thanks.
© no Copyright

Offertory Prayer
As you have blessed us in all that you have given us, we ask that you will bless the gifts that we bring that they may become a blessing to others.  Amen.

We Offer Our Prayers

God is always as near as our next breath.  God always listen when we pray, whether those prayers are written down and placed in our prayer jar or whether they as said in the silence of our hearts.  So let us bring our silent, personal prayers to God with confidence, knowing that they are always heard … Amen.

Minute for Mission

Prayers of the People                     ~ Based on a prayer written by Rev Abi

Divine Wisdom, we ask for your wisdom to discern your ways and path for our own lives.  We ask for your wisdom to discern how to deal with others we meet, live with, work with, shop with, drive our roads with, wait in line with, eat with and be with daily.  We ask for your wisdom in the difficult situations we may have to deal with as we go through life.

We ask for your wisdom to know good from evil.

We ask for your wisdom to sort through all the clamoring voices and concerns with which we are bombarded daily.
We ask for your wisdom in dealing with injustices in our world.

We ask for your wisdom to recognize and stand up against those who abuse, demean or devalue others.

We ask for your wisdom to deal with those who wage war on others.

We ask for your wisdom to be accepting of all the diverse people you have created.

We ask for wisdom for our leaders in our world, our country and our communities.

We ask for wisdom for our church leaders, worldwide and local.

We ask for your wisdom as we reach out to those in need in our communities and in our world.

We ask for wisdom in our ministry to those who are homebound, in nursing homes, in hospitals, in recovery or in rehab.

We ask for your wisdom to appreciate and care for this world in all its diversity.

We ask for your wisdom, that not only enlightens us, but transforms us and guides us in our daily walk with you.  Amen

Gift of Music              Forth In Your Name                                                    #416

Sending Out
And now we go out into a world that often seems anything by wise.  We go out to share God’s wisdom and God’s way, wherever we go.  But we do not go alone.  God is with us, Christ’s example leads the way, and the Spirit guides and accompanies us each day.  Go with God.

Choral Blessing                                                                                       #298
When you walk from here, when you walk from here,
Walk with justice, walk with mercy, and with God’s humble care.
© Words and music; 1991 Borealis Music. Used with Permission. OneLicense.net#A-723756 

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