Wish for Wisdom

15 Aug 2021 by Gail Hinton in: Sermons

Welcome to the Church

Welcome to this online service. May our ears be open to God’s teaching Spirit and our hearts be eager and attentive to God’s Word.

Call to Worship

The Call to Worship today is Psalm 111. If you are able and willing, I invite you to say out aloud along with me, the responses in bold font as seen below.

Praise the Lord.

I will extol the Lord with all my heart
    in the council of the upright and in the assembly.

Great are the works of the Lord;
    they are pondered by all who delight in them.
Glorious and majestic are his deeds,
    and his righteousness endures forever.
He has caused his wonders to be remembered;
    the Lord is gracious and compassionate.
He provides food for those who fear him;
    he remembers his covenant forever.

He has shown his people the power of his works,
    giving them the lands of other nations.
The works of his hands are faithful and just;
    all his precepts are trustworthy.
They are established for ever and ever,
    enacted in faithfulness and uprightness.
He provided redemption for his people;
    he ordained his covenant forever—
    holy and awesome is his name.

10 The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom;
    all who follow his precepts have good understanding.
To him belongs eternal praise.

Hymn: Tis 155 O lord my God, when I in awesome wonder.

Prayers of Adoration and Confession Declaration of Forgiveness

Creator God,
The world you have created is full of wonder and beauty.

Your immeasurable wisdom holds all things together,
from the planets that move through space like dancers on a stage,
to the flight of birds that soar on delicate whispers of bone and feather.

Rain and sunshine formed by your word at creation,
caress the earth’s surface,
bringing the green things to life, lush and bountiful.

Creator God we offer you our praise.

In wisdom beyond understanding you came to this earth
and lived a human life, in flesh and blood, in joy and sorrow.

Through you we see the mystery of God
revealed in loving action and sacrifice,
in gentle words and healing hands, in commands that still storms
and commands that still our souls.

Jesus firstborn of all creation we adore you.

At the dawn of creation, Lord,
your Spirit hovered over the waters,
embracing the infant world
and speaking words of wisdom
to each and every created thing.

The miracle of life came into being
and you Lord declared it good.

Your Spirit never ceases to bring life.

It fills those who are hungry to learn
and quenches the souls of those who seek understanding.

Holy Spirit we praise you.


 Prayers of Confession:

Today’s Prayer of Confession is based on Ephesians 5:15-20

Lord, we sometimes go about our days as if we are on auto pilot, rushing from one task to another and putting time spent with you on the to “do list.”

Forgive us for treating you as just another thing to be done, like an item to be checked off a list.

In this confusing and disorienting moment in history give us the Spirit of wisdom so that we may live wisely, making the most of our spare time, solitude, and isolation. In all our activities, in work and in leisure fill us with your Holy Spirit.

Forgive us when we fail to separate our own will from yours, for assuming we have all the knowledge and wisdom required to make good decisions.

May we always look to you and only you for answers. May we turn to your teaching Spirit, the Scriptures and dedicate ourselves to open, honest, soul-searching prayer.

Forgive us when we see our lives as a glass half empty, for forgetting that we are the people of God, the ones who know that in the end all things will be well, all things will be reconciled, healed, and renewed.

May we at all times be thankful for everything in the name of Jesus.

Jesus is the one who claims us as his own and he declares us holy and righteous before God.

In him and through him our sins are forgiven.

Thanks be to God.

Hymn: Tis 745. Seek ye first the Kingdom of God.

Readings: 1 Kings 2:10-12, 3: 3-14, Ephesians 5: 15-20 and John 6:51-58

1 Kings 2:10-12

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.


1 Kings 3:3-14

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.

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. 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.”

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.

“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. 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 honour—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.”


Ephesians 5:15-20

15 Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, 16 making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. 17 Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is. 18 Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit, 19 speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord, 20 always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.


John 6:51-58

51 I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats this bread will live forever. This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.”

52 Then the Jews began to argue sharply among themselves, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?”

53 Jesus said to them, “Very truly I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. 54 Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day. 55 For my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink. 56 Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in them. 57 Just as the living Father sent me and I live because of the Father, so the one who feeds on me will live because of me. 58 This is the bread that came down from heaven. Your ancestors ate manna and died, but whoever feeds on this bread will live forever.”


When a person has discerned a call to formal ministry, either as a Minister or a Deacon, they go before a panel of wise and experienced people known as the Synod Selection Panel. This panel discerns if the candidate is ready to enter into ministry formation, as a response to the will of God. The panel has a very challenging and significant task before them, one that requires a level of wisdom almost as impressive as the gift of understanding God grants King Solomon in today’s reading.

The Synod Selection Panel at one time, had a particular question to ask potential ministers, one designed to discern the candidates level of understanding. “What do you still need to learn, understand, and know?” This is a doozy of a question, and a person who thinks logically may answer “Well I can’t know what I don’t know, so I can’t really answer that question”, another answer may well be “ I don’t really need to know anymore, I am ready to go, just ordain me and get it over with.” That answer would not go down well. The answer the panel are hoping to hear goes a bit like this, “I still need to learn, understand and know.. everything! I am still like a child, and I don’t know if I am coming or going, but I am willing to learn and I am eager to be taught.” We could call this attitude teachability, an attitude that Solomon in today’s Old Testament story definitely possesses.

Solomon comes before God as a person willing to be taught, a person who realises they cannot possibly know it all. Bible historians tell us that Solomon was about twenty years of age when God comes to him in a dream so in describing himself as a child, he also comes before God with humility and a great deal of self-awareness. Solomon’s humble, honest, and self-aware request pleased God and we are told that God gave Solomon a wise and discerning mind like no one has ever had before or will ever have again, plus a whole lot of added extras to boot.

I don’t know about you, but I would love to have even a smidgen of that kind of wisdom but as a human some of my tendencies actually get in the way of receiving wisdom. Sadly, we humans tend to possess the opposite of Solomon’s attitude of ‘teachability’, an attitude I am going to call “knowitallitis”. That is obviously a made-up word, but I think you will know what I mean. Have you ever been stuck with a know it all at a party or an event? Before long you will be faking a phone call or text and back away saying “sorry I really need to take this. It’s been lovely talking to you”.

In reality it is not lovely, talking to someone who thinks they know everything. They are not at all interested in what you have to say, and they simply do not listen. How they learn anything is a bit of a mystery because their pride always seems to get in the way, closing off their responsiveness to new ideas and differing opinions. They are convinced that they can rely entirely on their own intelligence and reasoning.

In today’s reading from John and throughout John’s gospel we see examples of this attitude. Unable to become open and teachable like little children, they constantly miss the point in Jesus’ teaching and dispute between themselves his meaning. Instead of keeping their minds open and ready to learn they ridicule Jesus words and dismiss him as a freak, an idiot, or a madman. In today’s passage from John they exclaim “how on earth can this man gives us his flesh to eat, what on earth is he going on about?” A little bit further on in John’s gospel even Jesus’ own brothers remain closed to the possibility that Jesus is indeed the bread of life, come down from heaven. How can they be so blind and unaware of the truth?  In John’s gospel we are told that God draws all people to Christ, but it is also true that only those who come before God in humility, open to being taught as a child, can be filled with the spirit of wisdom that reveals the truth of Christ. The fear of God, that sense of humility, awe, and childlike trust is the beginning of wisdom and understanding (Psalm 111).

It is very unlikely any of us will ever be given the task of governing a nation like King Solomon, however all of us day in and day out are faced with making decisions. In Solomon’s dream he describes his task as discerning good from evil and although many of our daily decisions do not carry this level of cosmic importance, we do tend to think of our decisions as right or wrong, good or bad, wise or foolish. How can we like Solomon make wise decisions?

Well, the good news is this, God is the gracious giver of wisdom, and it is a gift that can be ours for the asking. How great is that? Thanks be to God. In today’s reading from Ephesians we hear that we must be careful to live as wise people. The wisdom Paul is asking us to live by is beyond human intelligence and reasoning, it is the wisdom that comes from heaven. A believer who has asked God for wisdom and been blessed with this free gift will be honest, peace-loving, considerate, forgiving, non-biased and sincere (James 3:17). The wise believer is willing to back down in argument for the sake of the other person because they are not full of themselves or convinced they know best and when they need to offer a word of correction or advice they will do so in the most gentle, loving way possible. There is no ‘point scoring’ in debates between Christians and to behave like that must surely upset the Holy Spirit.

So, how can we receive wisdom and live as wise people? The person who comes before God seeking wisdom is first willing to say, “Lord, I am like a little child and sometimes I don’t even know if I am coming or going but you Lord possess all wisdom and knowledge. Please give me an understanding mind and teach me to know right from wrong so that I can always discern your will.”

May God create in us thankful hearts for the gift of spiritual wisdom granted to us through the life, death and resurrection of our Lord, Jesus Christ.


Hymn: Perfect Wisdom of God

Prayers for Others

Loving God,

We come to you with our prayers for the world at a time when there is so much suffering. We pray that you will bring us through this time as we experience your presence with us and trust in your guidance. We ask too that you will revive your church and help it to meet this hour.

We pray for peace and justice for the people of Afghanistan, Syria, Israel, Myanmar and South Africa. We pray for Fiji, Indonesia, Lebanon and many other countries where the people have plunged into poverty because of Covid-19. We pray for them as they work to contain the virus, look after those who are sick, administer vaccines and comfort those who are mourning.

We pray for the people affected by the devastating fires in Greece, Turkey and the United States.

We pray for our own country and our medical and political leaders as they guide us through these present challenges, especially as they encourage people to get vaccinated. We pray for the people in areas in our state which are badly affected; those who are ill, those who have lost family members or jobs, and medical staff caring for the ill or aged. Show us all how to care for each other.

We remember before you Reverend Sharon Hollis, the new President of the Uniting Church, as she offers leadership and spiritual guidance over the next three years. We ask for her vision for Australia to be just, compassionate, inclusive and courageous to become a reality. We pray for all First Nations children to grow strong in spirit and to have a deep connection to culture and community.

We pray for good support for Frontier Services so that they can encourage volunteers to help country people who are still recovering from the effects of the bushfires and the mouse plague and we pray for good support for Uniting World so they can help our church partners with their practical needs and need for pastoral support.

In our congregation we pray for the Church Council, the presbytery and the JNC as they discern our future and we pray for the Church Council as they join with Gail in reflecting on the study “Healing Spiritual Amnesia” and how it applies to our congregation.

We pray for healing for those known to us who are recovering from surgery or illness and we pray for those in care or shut in: Audrey, Luke, Pat and Sheila.

O God, fill our hearts with the graces of the Holy Spirit: with love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.

We ask this in the name of Jesus Christ who taught us to pray,

Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as in heaven.

Give us today our daily bread. Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us.

Save us from the time of trial and deliver us from evil.

For the kingdom, the power and the glory are yours, now and for ever. Amen.

Offering Prayer

We bless you, Lord God, creator of the world;
from you every good and perfect gift comes.

Accept these offerings of ours.
As first fruits of our love and gratitude,
and enable us to give ourselves wholly
in the life of your kingdom;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.


Closing Hymn: Tis 143 Immortal, invisible, God only wise.


God the Father make you holy in his love; 
God the Son enrich you with his grace;
God the Holy Spirit strengthen you with joy;
the Lord bless you and keep you in eternal life.


Next Week: 22 August 2021
Readings: John 6:56-69, Eph 6: 10-20,
Lectionary Readings:
1 Kings 8:(1,6,10-11), 22-30, 41-43,
Ps 84, Eph 6:10-20, John 6:56-69