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.” (1 Kings 3:4-5).
Ask for whatever you want me to give you? Ok! That’s a tall order though, where to start? I will admit that the first things that jump to mind for me are selfish and shallow. A million dollars would be nice! A nice new house? Killer abs? Of course, those are superficial answers. A deeper inquiry would lead to the realization that I’d really love world peace. True justice and equality. Restoration and protection of the environment. When we dig a little deeper, it’s a question of what you really want. Our first answers lead to something much deeper: I want a sense of love, safety, and belonging.
We could tease this out as a congregation as well. Again, tons of money in the bank would be great – it would really help us in our mission! We jump to simple answers: We’d love more people in worship (or on the livestream!), we’d love a vibrant Sunday school program (nurturing faith is a key part of our mission!), and maybe (post pandemic) some awesome new ministry like a preschool, or a coffeehouse open to the public (there is one ELCA congregation that runs a microbrewery during the week).
Solomon could have asked for anything. A stronger army to defeat his enemies. Riches to maintain the kingdom and care for the people. A regal palace to live in. Instead, he asks for wisdom. The resources we want are only the surface level answer above what we really want.
So I want to ask, at St. Mark, what is it we really want? This question is so important to answer, because it becomes a compass and guide for how to take action. Do we want vibrant youth ministry? What action steps are we going to take to work towards that? Do we want to engage more people in worship? What action steps are we going to take to make worship connect with an increasingly diverse neighborhood?
What we want drives what we do. And in a time when it can feel really frustrating to do ministry, when we feel like nothing is “working,” it’s important to remember this story from 1 Kings: that God asks us what we want, because God will provide. Once we know what it is we really want, we can GO for it, trusting that God will make it so.
As we move into the season of stewardship, I ask us to continue reflecting on this question. We will once again be called to contribute our time and energy and financial resources to the mission of our community. So it seems crucial to me to be clear on exactly what that is.
Because, most importantly, remember that the work that we do matters. The way we continue to show up (even if virtually), contribute, reach out, pray, and serve touches the lives of each and every one of our members and extends out into the community we serve.