Thursday, August 15, 2013

God Gives Us Wisdom -- Alternative Lectionary -- Proper 16 (David Ackerman)


What is wisdom?  There is a definite wisdom tradition within Scripture.  In many ways it is a practical tradition, focused on real life.  We need to have access to such wisdom. But what is the nature of wisdom and how do we discern the ways of God?  In this alternative lectionary selection offered by David Ackerman, we encounter the famous story of Solomon and the Baby.  We all know the story, but have we worked through its implications.  Then there's Paul's guidance on speaking in tongues.  It's not a surprise that a text on tongues-speaking doesn't appear in the lectionary -- many main-liners find it an offense to the rational nature of our faith.  Then there's John 7, where Jesus speaks of Moses, circumcision, and the Sabbath while asking us what it means to judge with right judgment.  These are intriguing passages that do warrant our attention.

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Proper 16


August 25, 2013
“God Gives Us Wisdom”
Call to Worship:  Psalm 119:49-56 NRSV
One:  Remember your word to your servant, in which you have made me hope.
Many:  This is my comfort in my distress, that your promise gives me life.
One: The arrogant utterly deride me, but I do not turn away from your law.
Many:  When I think of your ordinances from of old, I take comfort, O Lord.
One:  Hot indignation seizes me because of the wicked, those who forsake your law.
Many:  Your statutes have been my songs wherever I make my home.
One:  I remember your name in the night, O Lord, and keep your law.
Many:  This blessing has fallen to me, for I have kept your precepts.
Gathering Prayer:  We come here today, God, to seek your wisdom.  Give us discerning minds so that we may choose what is good and turn away from all that is evil.  Amen.
Confession:  We confess, God of mercy, that we have not made wise decisions in our lives.  We have rejected your wisdom and embraced foolishness instead.  We have been arrogant about our gifts and wrongly judged people who were different from us.  Forgive us, God.  Enter our minds and our hearts, so that we might become new people, filled with your grace and love.  Amen.
Assurance:  Our maker knows us through and through.  God lets go of the wrongs of yesterday so that we may move forward today and tomorrow into the fullness of life that God has planned for us.  Thank you, God!  Amen.
Scripture:  1 Kings 3:16-28 – “Solomon and the Baby”
1 Corinthians 14:6-19 – “Speaking in Tongues”
John 7:19-24 – “Judge with Right Judgment”
Commentaries and sermon ideas are available in Beyond the Lectionary.
Reflection Questions:
What do you make of the story of Solomon and the baby in 1 Kings 3?  Is the king truly wise?  What do you think would have happened if the women had somehow answered differently?
What appear to be some of the problems with “speaking in tongues” in 1 Corinthians 14?  Who are the different groups involved in the controversy?  What do you think is the purpose of any spiritual gift?  Do you have any thoughts about (or experiences with) “speaking in tongues” today?
What are the people accusing Jesus of in John 7 and why?  What do you think Jesus means when he says, “Do not judge by appearances, but judge with right judgment” (v 24)?
What do you think wisdom is?  Do you think you are wise?  What would it take to become wise?
Prayer of Thanksgiving:  We rejoice, God, that you have made the gift of wisdom available to us.  Help us to embrace the opportunity you have placed before us by becoming wise so that we may build one another up in love.  Amen.
Benediction:  God has sent us into the world to be agents of change and transformation.  Let us now go forth and support each other as we strive to be faithful in a hostile world.  Amen.

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