Rev. George Miller
July 30, 2017
1 Kings 3:1-14
Last week a wild funny film with great heart came out, called “Girls Trip.” It’s about 4 friends who go to New Orleans for the weekend.
As you can imagine these women have a whole lot of adventures in the city of beads, bayous, and Bourbon St.
Halfway through the film the women are back in their hotel suite, wearing their pajamas, eating ice cream and winding down for the night, when wild party-person Dina comes into the room, says “Oh no! We are not ending the night like this!”, and then goes into another room.
As an audience member you are lead to believe that Dina’s preparing them for another adventure. Maybe she’s changing clothes to resume club-hopping, or has put out shots for them to do or some other shenanigans.
The camera follows the 3 other women as they walk into the room…and find Dina kneeling beside the bed, praying:
“Heavenly Father, I want to thank you for this day of life. My heart is so full of joy for these women right here.”
The friends join her, and that’s how they end their night in the Big Easy.
I love when movies or TV shows allow for a surprising moment in which God shows up and says “Hey, I’m here.”
This particular scene was so touching because as an audience member, you never see it coming. In the midst of a fast-paced funny film it pauses to show a flawed, imperfect person having a simple, sincere moment with God.
I share this scene because the more I dwell upon today’s reading, take it apart, and reassemble it, the more I feel like today’s reading is about a flawed, imperfect person having a simple, sincere moment with God.
Yes- the person in today’s scripture just so happens to be King Solomon, the most powerful person in all the land.
Yes- it’s hard to say that offering 1,000 burnt offerings on a hill-top altar 7 miles away from town is keeping it simple.
But there’s a sense that King Solomon in this story is no different from you or from me, or from Dina.
And I also can’t help but think that Solomon could have offered God a 1,000 rams or a 100 bottles of perfume or 10 jugs of olive oil or 1 bottle of wine or one penny, and the result would have been just the same.
Because of the intentionality behind his offering.
Note that in a story filled with so much detail the author never tells us why the King was making an offering to God.
We’re not told if his intention was to find favor or to be forgiven, to seek power or to solve a problem.
We’re not told that Solomon made an offering with the intention to ask God to make a miracle, annihilate his enemies, or have his favorite athlete win in the Ancient Olympics.
Perhaps… perhaps King Solomon’s sole intention of traveling 7 miles to a hill-top altar to offer 1,000 burnt offerings was simply to say to God-
“Hey. Thanks. How are you doing? You’re awesome. I love you. Bravo.”
There’s a sense in this story that it didn’t matter to God where this simple, sincere moment took place.
Perhaps it could have been on a mountaintop or at his workbench, in the garden or at the ocean, in Key West or New Orleans, on a golf course or at the organ -the result would have been the same.
Why? Because the intentionality behind King Solomon’s actions.
It seems as if Solomon just wanted to be with God; that the King just wanted to hang out with his Creator.
And it that’s this case, this is one of those moments in which God must have said “Yes, someone just wants to be with me as it was originally intended.”
I wonder if after King Solomon made his offering, God exhaled and said “Thank God, someone finally gets it.”
(Of course, would God say “Thank God” or “Thank Me?”)
I Kings 3 gives us a moment in time in which the most powerful person in the nation comes before the most powerful reality in all the nations, and simply, sincerely just is.
No wonder God visited Solomon in a dream that night. Knowing the intentions of his heart, God says “Ask what I should give you.”
What is the King’s 1st response?
Thanksgiving. “You have shown and kept true love to my father. I am who I am for no other reason than because of you.”
Next comes humility. “Although I’m young and have much room for growth, give me wisdom so I can watch over your people, learning good from evil.”
By today’s reading it’s clear that what Solomon wants is to be the kind of king who has compassion, who can see the world in shades of grey, who can discern, and include God in the process.
King Solomon is saying to God “Allow my heart to hear and my mind to understand so that I can be the best steward of your creation and watch your people with the right sense of dominion.”
In other words, he is asking “Make me the best version of me so that I can do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly with you.”
It’s interesting how this familiar story seems to build on the things we’ve talked about during the last few months.
Elements of Vacation Bible School and Micah 6:8, of General Synod and the Resolutions, the Beatitudes and intentionality.
Today’s story has elements of how we can be Grounded in God, and how perhaps God comes to worship so God can worship with us.
Today’s scripture can remind us how it pleases God when we do what is just, what is kind, what is humble, and how happy it must make our Creator when we simply, sincerely spend time with God.
Solomon came before the Lord because he knew God loved him, and he is rewarded beyond his belief.
We get to spend time with God as well, and though our reward may not be kingdoms and riches, we are blessed with other gifts.
Like the gifts of salvation.
Gifts of forgiveness.
Gifts of new beginnings.
Gifts of heaven.
Gifts of eternal life.
The gift of knowing that as flawed and imperfect as we may seem, our simplest, most sincere expressions of love and thanksgiving pleases God.
And in some ways, that is enough.
Amen and amen.