Aug 13

12th Sunday after Pentecost [Ordinary 20B] (Year B)

1 Kings 2:10-12; 3:3-14
  • Without much fanfare, we transition from the life and reign of David to the life and reign of Solomon.
  • This is a really interesting story that is not familiar to most folks.  Solomon is given the opportunity of a lifetime when God says, “Ask what I should give you.”  This rare moment when God seems to appear before Solomon in the same way as a genie might appear before Aladdin, Solomon could ask for anything.  What does he do?  Solomon asks for wisdom.  God is impressed, to say the least (which results in Solomon getting more than what he requested).
  • Maybe it is just me…but, the last sentence of this passage intrigues me.  God promises Solomon that his life will be lengthened if he walks in God’s ways and keeps God’s commandments and statutes…”as (his) father David walked”.  Ok…  Didn’t we just read (over the last several Sundays) how David did such a terrible job at keeping commandments and walking in God’s ways?  What does that mean for Solomon?  And what does that say about God’s covenant?
  • How would we answer God?  What would we want God to give to us?
  • This text is easy to present in the form of a readers theater or dramatic reading.
  • You may want to decorate your worship space with objects that are mentioned in the passage (as well as objects that make folks think of particular words mentioned in the text).
    • Many older (often “traditional”) churches have large chairs at the front of the sanctuary (usually made of wood, ornately carved with silk or velvet cushions) – perhaps where the clergy sit.  I confess, I have sometimes called these chairs “liturgical thrones”.  So…since they already look like thrones, why not feature one in your worship display as a throne (we are talking about King Solomon, right)?  You could hang a crown from one of the arms or the back (or just prop one up on the seat) to help it look more like a “throne” — maybe even drape some purple fabric on the back (as though the king has casually draped his royal robe over the back of it).
    • When some folks hear “wisdom”, they think of school-related items: book bags, books, notebooks, diplomas, graduation caps, etc.  Besides using items like these in a worship display, you may want to take a moment to pray for students and teachers (since many are heading back to school around this time of year).
Psalm 111
  • The school-related items mentioned for the reading from 1 Kings could also be used to illustrate this text, since the Psalmist speaks of both studying and wisdom.
  • Praise and wisdom are linked in this passage.  How do we celebrate wisdom in our faith communities?  How do we praise God through our pursuit of knowledge?  Is our faith in and love of God the starting point for our educational endeavors?
Ephesians 5:15-20
  • I like Eugene Peterson’s The Message for this passage.  In fact, if you decide to use The Message, I suggest reading verses 11-20.
  • Do we make good use of our time?  Does our “making the most of the time” include Sabbath?
  • If you are focusing on this passage of scripture, you may want to use a variety of worship songs throughout the service.  Seriously – “sing songs and hymns and spiritual songs…singing and making melody to the Lord”!
  • The last verse reminds us to give thanks to God “at all times and for everything”.  How do we say thank you to God?  How do we say thank you to one another?
  • Want to explore the last verse (regarding “giving thanks”)?  Why not write thank you notes to God?  This could be a fun activity for people of all ages – and children and youth may really get into it.  Cards/Postcards that are created could be put on display in the worship space – or in a fellowship area – where folks could meditate and pray prayers of thanksgiving (giving praise to God for all the many things for which we all say “thanks”).
John 6:51-58
  • Jesus is still pushing the high-carb goodness that is the “bread of life”.  For those who are getting a tad weary of all the bread talk, there is good news: after this Sunday, we only have one more week of the “bread” theme.
  • Up until this point, Jesus’ talk about eating the bread of life has been mysterious, but not offensive.  This week, it takes a more dramatic turn and gets graphic.  It is doubtful that the people who were following Jesus – hoping to see him perform another miracle or “magic trick” – were expecting to hear him say that they needed to eat his flesh and drink his blood.  At the risk of incredibly bad pun, Jesus gives us a lot to chew on…
  • Guess what you can use in your worship display?  The bread and cup are obvious choices.  You could also use grapes and stalks of grain.  Since we are talking about Jesus, having a cross in the display is also a good idea.

** The picture featured this week is of a group called The Blues Deacons.  If you like blues, then you will want to check out their music!  They may not be singing “hymns”, but they are definitely singing and making melodies that get even the most sanctified toes tapping…

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