Rev. Marilyn Wilcox, having served UCC/UMC congregations in MA, NH, ME, and NY, is currently serving with great joy as Designated Term Pastor of the United Church of Clinton in Clinton, MA. Married (to Michael), with four grown children (Jess, Jared, Nate, and Dustin) and two cats (Iris and Yasmin), she is also grateful to have exceptional co-workers and friends at the Grafton Public Library in Grafton, MA.
Scripture: 1 Kings 2:10-12; 1 Kings 3:3-14 (The Message)
Then David joined his ancestors. He was buried in the City of David. David ruled Israel for forty years—seven years in Hebron and another thirty-three in Jerusalem. Solomon took over on the throne of his father David; he had a firm grip on the kingdom.
Solomon arranged a marriage contract with Pharaoh, king of Egypt. He married Pharaoh’s daughter and brought her to the City of David until he had completed building his royal palace and God’s Temple and the wall around Jerusalem. Meanwhile, the people were worshiping at local shrines because at that time no temple had yet been built to the Name of God. Solomon loved God and continued to live in the God-honoring ways of David his father, except that he also worshiped at the local shrines, offering sacrifices and burning incense.
The king went to Gibeon, the most prestigious of the local shrines, to worship. He sacrificed a thousand Whole-Burnt-Offerings on that altar. That night, there in Gibeon, God appeared to Solomon in a dream: God said, “What can I give you? Ask.”
Solomon said, “You were extravagantly generous in love with David my father, and he lived faithfully in your presence, his relationships were just and his heart right. And you have persisted in this great and generous love by giving him—and this very day!—a son to sit on his throne.
“And now here I am: God, my God, you have made me, your servant, ruler of the kingdom in place of David my father. I’m too young for this, a mere child! I don’t know the ropes, hardly know the ‘ins’ and ‘outs’ of this job. And here I am, set down in the middle of the people you’ve chosen, a great people—far too many to ever count.
“Here’s what I want: Give me a God-listening heart so I can lead your people well, discerning the difference between good and evil. For who on their own is capable of leading your glorious people?”
God, the Master, was delighted with Solomon’s response. And God said to him, “Because you have asked for this and haven’t grasped after a long life, or riches, or the doom of your enemies, but you have asked for the ability to lead and govern well, I’ll give you what you’ve asked for—I’m giving you a wise and mature heart. There’s never been one like you before; and there’ll be no one after. As a bonus, I’m giving you both the wealth and glory you didn’t ask for—there’s not a king anywhere who will come up to your mark. And if you stay on course, keeping your eye on the life-map and the God-signs as your father David did, I’ll also give you a long life.”
Reflection: The Ins and Outs of This Job
A young Solomon is presented with the task of following in the way of his father, David, to lead his people. I love that Solomon admits he does not know it all. He looks at this enormous task of taking over for Dad, and he is simply overwhelmed. He feels he is lacking in experience and wisdom to do the job.
In addition to being a pastor, I have worked here and there for libraries throughout the years. I started as the one who filed the cards into the card catalogue at Salem State College (now Salem State University), a task which shows my age. For the last seventeen years, I have worked not as the Children’s Librarian, but in a Children’s Room, at a public library. There has been something very refreshing about not being “the person in charge.” I have worked under two exceptional Children’s Librarians who have organized, supervised, envisioned, and created a joyful Children’s Room atmosphere. They formulating procedures and practices to develop early reading readiness through continued enjoyment and enhancement of reading skills. In addition, they created a working environment with a team spirit at its heart that makes the space beneficial for all. Additional training enables them to manage and oversee the Children's Room with a certain skill set that I do not possess. There is much to know about the “ins and outs” of the job.
To that end, Solomon wishes to be in-the-know. In a dream, he comes into the presence of God. And because of his humble state, God bestows him a great wisdom to rule with a “discerning mind.” I must admit, even after thirty-some years in ministry, I still do not know all the “ins and outs” of the job. There is always something to learn, actions to be taken, and much to pray about. Our work is truly never done. Whereas in my library job, I punch in and out and at the end of the day leave my work behind, in ministry the work is never finished, and it does go home with us. I stand with Solomon wanting to know more, but most importantly to be just and caring. Maybe we do not always need the complete skill set at the end of the day, but we do need to be responsible for the people we serve. Part accountability, part visionary, but always faithful is at the heart of our collective ministries.
May wisdom and a “God-listening heart” touch our lives this day. May it be so for you and for me. Amen
New Prayer Requests:
We ask churches and church leaders to join us in the following prayers either by sharing them during worship, printing them in bulletins, or sharing them in some other way. To make a prayer request, please contact Drew Page at firstname.lastname@example.org
Prayers of Intercession:
- For the victims and their families of the 420 mass shootings already carried out in 2021 (surpassing all shootings for 2019, 2nd only to 2020's total)
- For those impacted by continued wildfires in the western part of the nation
Prayers of Joy and Thanksgiving:
- For the laughter of young children and the purity of their imagination
This Week in History:
August 9, 2014 (7 years ago) Officer Darren Wilson shoots and kills Michael Brown, an unarmed Black teenager, in Ferguson, Missouri. The shooting led to widespread protests against police profiling and violence. Tension grew when local police responded with a heavily militarized presences in the streets of Ferguson, leading to questions about police procedures and the need for certain equipment normally reserved for the military. A grand jury declined to indict Wilson in late 2014 and federal prosecutors did not pursue civil rights charges against the officer.
“Study the past if you would define the future.”