Posted on Jul 23, 2020

26 July 2020

Rachel Naomi Remen is a Physician who has written a book:

My Grandfather’s Blessings: Stories of Strength, Refuge and Belonging.

Her grandfather was an Orthodox Rabbi and scholar.

Once when she was four, he grandfather brought her a paper cup.

She expected to find something special inside. It was full of dirt.

Her grandfather filled a jug with water,

took her and the cup and the jug of water to the window sill.

Then he said: “If you promise to put some water in this cup every day,

Just a little mind you, but do it every day, something may happen.”

She promised, “Every day,” to her grandfather.

And, every day, she went to the window sill and picked up the jug and put

just a little water into the cup of dirt.

After a week she asked her grandfather if it was time to stop yet.

“Not yet,” he said.  “You must continue to water the dirt every day.”

“Every day,” she repeated, but the second week it was harder.

Some times she would forget and remember in the middle of the night. 

She’d pull herself out of bed, and put a few drops of water into the cup.

Then, one morning three weeks later, there were two little green leafs in the cup

that had not been there the night before.

The little girl was completely astonished. She rushed to tell her grandfather.

He explained to her then that life is hidden everywhere,

even in the most ordinary and unlikely places.

The little girl was so happy, and she said: “And all it needs is water?”

“No,” her grandfather said, “All it needs is your faithfulness.”

It takes more than soil, and seed, and water and sunshine to make life grow. It takes faithfulness.

The interesting thing about the first reading is that you have to know how the story turns out

to really get the point.

We think of Solomon as this great figure in our collective religious past.

Here in this story we hear today, he asks for a discerning heart so he can make right judgments.

And he does for a while.

But faithfulness to the gifts we receive is difficult, it takes vigilance.

The end of the story for Solomon isn’t so great you know.

He eventually takes several wives and builds a fabulous palace for himself,

being distracted by his own power and wealth.

And worst of all, he also reintroduces the practice of honoring pagan gods.

Oh he had his moments of greatness,

but faithfulness to the gifts he received wains and so he also strays.

Each of us here have been given great gifts by God.

Maybe these weren’t the ones we would have asked for,

but nonetheless, each of us here have been gifted.

And we have a responsibility to these gifts–not for our own ends,

but for the greater end of God’s life in this world.

The question this weekend is: First, what gifts have I been given?

Second, Have I been faithful to these gifts?

The point of the Solomon story is that even when we are wise,

we can squander what we have been given.

We don’t actually know what the people who found the pearl or the treasure,

do in the end.

All we know is what they were given.

Were they faithful?  Did something come of their faithfulness?

Has something come of our faithfulness?