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Sunday 16 August, 2015

Sunday 16 August, 2015


the scripture readings are included as links when you hover your mouse over it, it should show you a section of the text. You can click on the more at the bottom of the box or just click on the reference itself to go read the full text.

1 Kings 2:10-12 (NRSV); 1 Kings 3:3-14(NRSV)

Ephesians 5:15-20 (NRSV)

John 6:51-58 (NRSV)


1 Kings 2:10-12; 3:3-14

King David is dead. His son, Solomon, the son of Bathsheba, is now king. Solomon has not yet built the Temple in Jerusalem, so sacrifice is done in the high place. Solomon goes to one of the high places to make his sacrifice, and there in a dream God asks him what he wants. Solomon asks for an understanding and discerning heart to distinguish good from evil. God promises him a wise heart plus riches, and also promises that there will be no other on earth as wise as him and as rich as him.

The text of the lectionary skips some parts of the story. David had other sons, not from Bathsheba, older than Solomon, who would have inherited the kingdom, but Bathsheba, Solomon’s mother, along with the prophet Nathan, convinced David to proclaim Solomon king. So, David calls Solomon and tells him he will be the king, he also tells him of his enemies and instructs Solomon on who to kill and who to spare.

It is not possible to say for certain that the events recorded are chronological, but if they were, Solomon’s dream comes more than three years after he has been king. He has already killed all his father’s enemies and everyone who has defied David or Solomon. He has also killed his older brother, the heir to the throne who was expected to be king. Chapter 2 ends with all these killings and the final verse says: “So the kingdom was established in the hand of Solomon.” It is then that after marrying the daughter of the Pharaoh of Egypt, God appears to him in a dream where he asks and get the promise of wisdom and riches. At this point Solomon stands unchallenged. There is no opposition to his rule. There is no one who dares tell him he has done something wrong. There is not even a prophet to advise or admonish him.

How would the families of the people Solomon had killed understand the wisdom that he was given?

Today, whether it is government or church, how do we deal wisely and understanding hearts with the people of God? Who would we need to cut down so that the kingdom can be united and grow?

If you consider yourself one of the people who has been cut down, or a member of his family, what would be your reaction towards Solomon? What would be your reaction towards God?

Ephesians 5:15-20

Paul is writing to the church in Ephesus, a gentile church. In this section, Paul encourages the people to discern good and evil with wisdom, and not let drunkenness influence their judgement, and to give thanks to God with singing psalms and hymns.

A very simple encouragement that applies to anyone without discrimination. Paul of course is a Jew and is well educated in the Jewish tradition of singing psalms and hymns. To a gentile group, what do the psalms actually mean? It is not part of their tradition, so how can they understand and relate to the deep connection that a psalm may bring to a Jewish person?

In many multicultural congregations we usually use English hymns. Some of these hymns are actually translated to several different languages, so it would be appropriate to use these translations if available. However, some cultures have their own hymns created in their own language and music, which may not be always translated.

How would a person from a different culture feel with a song in a foreign language?

It could also be a reading. Some migrant churches have stressed on learning bible verses and Psalms by heart. How should someone from those cultures relate to a Psalm they know by heart, being read in a foreign language?

John 6:51-58

Jesus tells the people that he is the bread of life, and that this bread is his flesh. To have that life they need to eat his flesh and drink his blood. The Jews start to argue among themselves. God has forbidden the eating or drinking of blood. God has also forbidden the eating of another human’s flesh. How can Jesus say these things? However, Jesus says that unless they eat his flesh and drink his blood they will not have eternal life. The only way for Jesus to abide in someone is for that person to eat his flesh and drink his blood. All other bread, even the manna that God gave the people to eat, resulted in them  dying. Our first reaction to this passage is to look at it as symbolic. However, the literal meaning also caries some interesting notions.

Jewish tradition, as many other traditions, believe that when you eat something you take on its characteristic, its essence, similar to the words during our communion service: “we become what we eat.” This does not happen by simply eating animals. The life of the animal is in its blood, and when the blood is eaten or drunk, the essence of the animal is absorbed. That is one of the reasons God had forbidden the eating of blood. The idea was that animals are lower than human beings, and by eating the blood of an animal, you take on the essence of a lower being. As part of the triune God, Jesus could be considered a higher being than humans. So, eating the flesh and drinking the blood of Jesus would actually result in absorbing the essence of God, which raises the person to a higher being and gives that person the characteristics of God. In other words, we become what we eat.

How would our Fijian and other friends interpret this passage from their cultural perspective?

How could we understand and discuss this passage with someone who has a different cultural viewpoint on eating flesh and drinking blood?


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