Blessings Cooksville Family!
Below is the link to this week’s service:
As always, If you have problems with viewing the video, I have included the full text , of most of the service, below.
And remember, please try to keep in touch with each other, particularly those you know who are forced to spend so much time alone.
And feel free to call or email me personally if you want to connect or if there is anything I can do.
Rev. Brian Vickers
Cell – 905-802-4081
Email – firstname.lastname@example.org
July 25, 2021
Sunday Worship Service
Prelude: Sweet By and By – Joseph Webster, arr. Mark Hayes
Opening Video: God Is Here
Welcome & Greeting:
Lighting the Christ Candle
Song: “God of Wonders”
Call to Worship and Opening Prayer:
The Lords Prayer
1 Kings 2:10-12, 3:3-14 New International Version
2:10 Then David rested with his ancestors and was buried in the City of David. 11 He had reigned forty years over Israel—seven years in Hebron and thirty-three in Jerusalem. 12 So Solomon sat on the throne of his father David, and his rule was firmly established.
3:3 Solomon showed his love for the Lord by walking according to the instructions given him by his father David, except that he offered sacrifices and burned incense on the high places. 4 The king went to Gibeon to offer sacrifices, for that was the most important high place, and Solomon offered a thousand burnt offerings on that altar. 5 At Gibeon the Lord appeared to Solomon during the night in a dream, and God said, “Ask for whatever you want me to give you.” 6 Solomon answered, “You have shown great kindness to your servant, my father David, because he was faithful to you and righteous and upright in heart. You have continued this great kindness to him and have given him a son to sit on his throne this very day. 7 “Now, Lord my God, you have made your servant king in place of my father David. But I am only a little child and do not know how to carry out my duties. 8 Your servant is here among the people you have chosen, a great people, too numerous to count or number. 9 So give your servant a discerning heart to govern your people and to distinguish between right and wrong. For who is able to govern this great people of yours?” 10 The Lord was pleased that Solomon had asked for this. 11 So God said to him, “Since you have asked for this and not for long life or wealth for yourself, nor have asked for the death of your enemies but for discernment in administering justice, 12 I will do what you have asked. I will give you a wise and discerning heart, so that there will never have been anyone like you, nor will there ever be. 13 Moreover, I will give you what you have not asked for—both wealth and honor—so that in your lifetime you will have no equal among kings. 14 And if you walk in obedience to me and keep my decrees and commands as David your father did, I will give you a long life.”
Solo: A Living Circle – words and music by Ralph Carmichael
The Deep End
I’ve said a lot of prayers in my life. Generally – you hear the formal ones – opening prayer – prayers for the people or pastoral prayers – final blessings – the ones that are all part of our worship service.
And then there are the less formal ones – start and end of a meeting – prayers with people who ask for something in particular – or with people in the hospital – prayers and blessings for someone’s new car.
Some long – some short. Someone once told me that the best blessing for a meal was the shortest one – thank you God. But then – using Irish slang for thank you – and an affectionate way of calling God Father – you can shorten it even more to just – Da Pa – which roughly translates to – thanks dad.
But I don’t think that any of the prayers that I’ve given could be considered – the perfect prayer. I’m not sure if I’ve ever heard the perfect prayer – but I’ve heard of one that comes pretty close.
It came out of the mouth of a six-year-old boy. His mother told the story to another minister – who then posted it online. They were at a local swimming pool – and her son was standing at the deep end – his toes curled over the edge. Still unsure of himself in the water – he stood there for what seemed to her like a very long time.
Hesitating – Meditating – Palpitating. And just when it seemed that he was going to back away from the edge – he looked up to the sky – put his hands together – and said – O Lord – give me skills or GIVE ME GILLS! And he jumped.
Give me skills or give me gills. That pretty much covers all the bases – doesn’t it? O Lord, give me what I need to overcome what I’m facing – but if you won’t do that – give me what I need to endure it. Give me skills or give me gills.
I want you all to remember that prayer – and what it’s really asking for. Say it yourself when you’re in those tough situations. It’s surprising how many times I’ve used it myself since I first heard it. But maybe it shouldn’t be all that surprising.
In his book – Hustling God – Craig Barnes – wrote this about the Christian life – (the Christian’s) calling is not primarily to accomplish something – but to serve God who will always lead you to places where you are in way over your head. Barnes is reminding us that God has a habit of tossing us into the – deep end – of life. O Lord – give me skills – o r give me gills.
Our reading from First Kings finds Solomon in way over his head. His father – King David – is dead – and now – he – is the head of his family.
He’s grieving – he’s afraid – he’s carrying a heavy load. He’s no longer swimming in the safety of the shallow end of his childhood. With one swift toss – Solomon has landed – headfirst – in the deep end of adulthood.
And what a deep end it was. It isn’t just the loss of his father that Solomon is forced to confront – it’s who his father was. His father was David – the great king of Israel – the slayer of Goliath – the liberator from the Philistines – the original Raider of the Lost Ark – the unifier of the tribes – the master musician and wordsmith – the “man after God’s own heart.”
So with David’s death – Solomon not only took his place at the head of his own family – but he was now the head of the kingdom as well – ready or not – and it was clear that Solomon was not ready.
But he should have been – right – I mean – for years – Solomon had known that this day would come. Just like our prince Charles or Prince William – His whole life was a preparation for the day that he would become king – everyone expects them to be ready. And yet – when the day does come – Solomon seems totally unprepared for it.
The author of our story is kind to Solomon when he writes – Solomon showed his love for the Lord by walking according to the instructions given him by his father David – except that he offered sacrifices and burned incense on the high places.
They sort of try to gloss by it – but that’s a fairly strong except there. The second half of that sentence certainly seems to bring into question the first half. Solomon loved the Lord – following the instructions of his father David – except – he wasn’t – David wouldn’t have honoured the high places – and doing so would never have been part of his instructions
I think what the author is trying to tell us – as gently as possible – is that while Solomon tried to follow in his father’s footsteps – it was clear that he was very definitely – not – his father. He was – in fact – a bit of a mess. He was in way over his head.
But the good thing – the saving grace – if you will – was that Solomon knew it. And when confronted with it – he ‘fesses up to it.
Solomon had lost the way to God – trying to find it by going to Gibeon the highest of the high places – to offer sacrifices – if only he had listened to his dad – he would know that wasn’t the way to God.
But the really great thing is – that even when he has forgotten or just abandoned the way to God – God finds the way to him. God finds Solomon in Gibeon – where he has mistakenly gone once again – to make some more sacrifices and to burn some more incense – even though he knew better.
There might be a perfectly logical reason why Solomon would be so devoted to worshipping in the high places – a reason that has nothing to do with his faith or the lack thereof.
Going to those places – putting on the appearance of worship – Solomon buys himself some time. It would take quite a while to offer 1000 burnt sacrifices. Days – or even weeks I would guess. At the very least – it was time-consuming enough that it required him to camp out there for a few nights.
And as long as Solomon is worshipping in the high places – he doesn’t have to get about the difficult task of being the king – of truly following in his father’s footsteps. He doesn’t have to take the leap into the deep waters of the great unknown. He can stay in the safe – shallow end of his life.
It’s the perfect disguise really. His people see what he’s doing as an act of deep devotion – when – in reality – he’s doing it all out of fear.
It looks to all the kingdom like Solomon is constantly running to God for help – when it’s really the opposite – he’s constantly running away. But lucky for him – not even Solomon can run in his sleep. And that’s where the Lord finds him.
The Lord appears to Solomon in a dream and asks him what he wants. Because it’s a dream – and because there’s no one else listening in or looking on – Solomon is able to be truthful to God – and to himself – and he can unburden his heart to God.
This is what he says – You have shown great kindness to your servant, my father David, because he was faithful to you and righteous and upright in heart. You have continued this great kindness to him and have given him a son to sit on his throne this very day.
“Now, Lord my God, you have made your servant king in place of my father David. But I am only a little child and do not know how to carry out my duties. Your servant is here among the people you have chosen, a great people, too numerous to count or number
Solomon was saying – in effect – I’m not up to this God. You put me in the place of my father – but I’m not my father – I have no idea what I’m doing – I’m scared to death. Then Solomon tells God what he wants –
Give your servant a discerning heart to govern your people and to distinguish between right and wrong. For who is able to govern this great people of yours?
It’s a prayer really. O Lord – give me what I need to overcome what I’m facing – but if you won’t do that – give me what I need to endure it.
In other words – O Lord – give me skills or give me gills. And the Lord gives Solomon both!
So – God said to him – Since you have asked for this and not for long life or wealth for yourself, nor have asked for the death of your enemies but for discernment in administering justice, I will do what you have asked.
I will give you a wise and discerning heart, so that there will never have been anyone like you, nor will there ever be. Moreover, I will give you what you have not asked for—both wealth and honor—so that in your lifetime you will have no equal among kings.
The rest – as they say – is history. It came to pass just as the Lord had said. And King Solomon is still known today for his wisdom – for his – understanding mind – which is – I think – a bit of a shame.
For unless you know how Solomon acquired that wisdom – you might think he was born with it. but we know differently. It was a gift. The only thing Solomon really knew and understood – was that he didn’t know anything about being king. But he did have the courage to fess up about it – and ask God for the one thing that he really needed.
If Craig Barnes is right – and God – is – constantly leading us into places where we are in way over our heads – then this story about Solomon is an important one. It means we can relax a bit about our shortcomings – or if not relax – then it means we can at least stop pretending that we have everything under control.
It means we can stop wasting time and energy on our own high places – our own personal Gibeons – pretending to be something – or someone – that we’re not.
It means we might as well stop running away from God – because God is going to find us anyway. It means that when we realize all that we can’t do – we are in a perfect position to discover all that God can do.
It means that if we can’t avoid the challenge set before us – if we’re going to be heading into the deep end sooner or later – one way or another – we should ask God for what we need to overcome it – or what we need to endure it.
We should boldly pray for skills or for gills – confident that God will always give us one or the other.
And sometimes – like Solomon – we may even get both. But however the answer comes – God always comes with it. And that – as Solomon discovered in the middle of the night in Gibeon – is the very best news of all.
Let’s pray. O Lord – how often we find ourselves in over our heads. When our toes are curled over the edge of the deep unknown – give us the faith to jump – confident that you will either give us the skills we need to overcome what we’re facing – or the abilities we need to endure it. Either way – we trust that you will be with us. And that will be more than
Hymn: “In Christ Alone”
Video: One Prayer
Hymn: “Amazing Grace”
Benediction and Commissioning
Postlude: Oh God, Hear My Prayer – Johann Walther