Sermon: The Gift of Wisdom

2015 08 16 – The Gift of Wisdom from John Knox Kirk on Vimeo.

sermon preached at The Kirk of Kansas City, Missouri, on August 16, 2015.

Ephesians 5:15-20
and 1 Kings 2:10-12; 3:3-14


Timothy Boggess describes it as the best, the most perfect prayer he ever heard:
It came out of the mouth of a six year-old boy.
 His mother told me about it, soon after it happened.
  The boy and his mother were at the local swimming pool,
   and the son was standing at the deep end,
      toes curled over the edge.
 He was still unsure of himself in the water.
 So he stood there, for what seemed like a very, very long time.
  And just when it seemed that he was going to back away from the edge,
    the boy looked up to the sky,
      and he put his hands together,
      and he said:
       “O Lord, give me skills, or give me gills!”
 And he jumped.[i]

There’s a prayer for you:
Give me skills, or give me gills. Pretty much covers all the bases:

Lord, give me what I need to overcome what I am facing;
but if you won’t do that, give me what I need to endure it.

Give me skills, or give me gills.
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Sermon: Rooted and Grounded

sermon preached at The Kirk of Kansas City, Missouri, on July 26, 2015.

Psalm 145:10-18
and Ephesians 3:14-21


Ephesians presents itself as a letter from the Apostle Paul
in which Paul is, among other things,
describing this AMAZING thing that has happened in his life.

What happened was that right at that point
that he had the WALLS of the house of God figured out, and defined…
…right at the point that he was certain of who was IN and who was OUT
…God knocked down one of the walls.

In Paul’s case, the wall was the one between Jew and Gentile.
Suddenly, this thing that had seemed so clear, so formidable
had been torn down and cast aside!
And having described that, he then says this:

For this reason I bow my knees before God,
 from whom every family in heaven and on earth takes its name.
  I pray that, according to the riches of God’s glory,
  God may grant that you may be strengthened
    in your inner being with power through his Spirit,
  and that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith,
    as you are being rooted and grounded in love.

I pray that you may have the power to comprehend, with all the saints,
 what is the breadth and length and height and depth
  and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge,
   so that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.
Now to the one who by the power at work within us
   is able to accomplish abundantly far more
   than we can ask or imagine—
  –to God be glory in the church
   and in Christ Jesus, to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.

[And may God bless our reading, and our understanding
and our applying these words, to how we live our lives.]

In one of his wonderful sermons[i], Frederick Buechner described a day
when he and his wife stopped by a convenience store
to pick up a few groceries.

They were in a bit of a rush, so they tore their shopping list in half,
and Buechner headed down one aisle
and his wife headed down the other.

They had hardly gotten separated before Buechner remembered
something that they had left off the list.
It was on his wife’s side of the store, so he craned up over
the cereal boxes and cake mixes and said,
Hey…uh…don’t forget the heavy cream!”

And she leaned over the Pampers and the paper towels and said,
“Ok, but don’t you forget that you’re trying to lose some weight.”
And he responded, “Well, you only live once.”

It was then, said Buechner, that this thing happened in the store…
…this thing that, for the moment anyway, broke through his deafness.

It was a hot day, and the woman at the check-out was flushed and weary…
…but she had been listening to the exchange,
and when Buechner said, “Hey, you only live once.”
she leaned over the Lifesavers and TV Guides and said:
“Don’t you think once is enough?”

“It was a mild jest,” said Buechner,
“And I laughed a little and my wife laughed a little
 and the stock boy carrying a load of boxes laughed a little,
  but beneath the jest, I heard something.

“I heard a woman saying,
‘People come and people go, and I’m tired of them.
 I’m tired of them—I’m tired of this,
 I’m tired of myself,
 I’m tired of life.
 I’ll plug on through to the end,
  but when the end comes, I won’t complain.’”

Buechner said, “I’m thinking how Jesus said,
‘I am the Resurrection and the Life.’
but she rings up shampoo and says,
“Once will be enough, thank you.”

What Buechner heard that day at the 7-11 is what all of us can hear—
–that all around us people are wrestling with the pressures,
the demands,
the weariness of life—and being overwhelmed by it.

The Bible knows about being overwhelmed.
 Overwhelmed by life. Overwhelmed by sorrow.

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