URC Daily Devotion 8 November 2023

Reading 1 Kings 10.1-10 

When the queen of Sheba heard of the fame of Solomon, (fame due to the name of the Lord), she came to test him with hard questions. She came to Jerusalem with a very great retinue, with camels bearing spices, and very much gold, and precious stones; and when she came to Solomon, she told him all that was on her mind. Solomon answered all her questions; there was nothing hidden from the king that he could not explain to her. When the queen of Sheba had observed all the wisdom of Solomon, the house that he had built, the food of his table, the seating of his officials, and the attendance of his servants, their clothing, his valets, and his burnt-offerings that he offered at the house of the Lord, there was no more spirit in her.

So she said to the king, ‘The report was true that I heard in my own land of your accomplishments and of your wisdom, but I did not believe the reports until I came and my own eyes had seen it. Not even half had been told me; your wisdom and prosperity far surpass the report that I had heard. Happy are your wives! Happy are these your servants, who continually attend you and hear your wisdom! Blessed be the Lord your God, who has delighted in you and set you on the throne of Israel! Because the Lord loved Israel for ever, he has made you king to execute justice and righteousness.’ Then she gave the king one hundred and twenty talents of gold, a great quantity of spices, and precious stones; never again did spices come in such quantity as that which the queen of Sheba gave to King Solomon.


There can be much giving and receiving of gifts in international ecumenism.  Some cultures have a very high regard for the showing of respect through both the gift offered and the process, the ‘soft ritual’, through which an item is given and received, and consider it a loss of face if their conventions around giving are not honoured.  The nature of the gifts varies but can be all sorts of small items, practical and fun as well as books about varying aspects of Church life and unity.  My standard gifts to offer is usually either a themed tea towel or calendar which often feels paltry in comparison.  

‘Receptive ecumenism’ is a popular idea in these times.  Essentially it describes the possibility that we look to what might be the spiritual or other treasures of other Christian traditions that we might receive to deepen our own experience of God, strengthen our discipleship, or enable us to serve our communities more faithfully and fully.  The queen of Sheba – it is unfortunate perhaps that her enduring name is as a brand of cat food – had heard of Solomon due to the name of the Lord.  Sheba was intrigued so she travelled to Jerusalem to meet Solomon for herself.  As was customary she came bearing gifts.  Bowled over by Solomon’s wisdom and the prosperity of his kingdom she was left with nothing else to say.  

The World Council of Churches enables its 350+ member churches to speak into global affairs together, as one voice.  It also facilitates conversation with the aim of finding consensus on matters of faith and Church order.  Most rewarding are the opportunities at WCC gatherings to learn something of the richness of other traditions although the temptation to retreat into a lowest common denominator blandness can be present even on the world stage.  I wonder where we, in the United Reformed Church, have some  Solomon-like wisdom that can be shared with our siblings in other traditions?  I ponder what too are we being invited to receive as a gift from the discipleship journeys of others to enrich and deepen our own?  


Pilgrim One, 
you have offered creation riches beyond measure 
you invite us and invite through us 
the world to deepen its faith.  
Enable us to notice 
the places your invitation comes, 
both expected and unexpected.  
Help us to be good hosts, 
to be able to share 
that you have given us 
that is good 
and may strengthen others. 



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