Thought for the Day by Toby Parsons (All Hallows)
Making an impression
Wow! That’s amazing!
Gazing up in admiration at the intricate arches of a historic building. Looking out in wonder at the majestic mountains rising to snow-capped peaks. Listening with rapt attention to the inspired oratory of a great speaker.
There are things that make us stop in awe and wonder.
When the Queen of Sheba met Solomon in today’s passage from 1 Kings, she was amazed by his wisdom and wealth. And she was a person of high position herself, who brought quantities of gold and spices that in turn amazed her hosts. You can imagine a warmth and friendliness to the visit, even if expressed with regal restraint. There was perhaps something of a mutual admiration society – two powerful people aware of their riches and greatness basking in shared glory.
The contrast with Paul’s visit to Thessalonica in the verses from Acts 17 is notable. He reasoned with his hosts, using words not physical gifts, and some people responded positively. But others formed a mob and started a riot, forcing the visitors from the city.
Solomon was indeed blessed by God. We read of the wisdom of his judgements. We hear of the overpowering presence of the Lord at the dedication of the temple. So on one level it’s neither surprising nor inappropriate to be impressed by David’s successor.
But if we just admire the man himself, or wonder at the physical splendour of his kingdom, we may lose sight of God’s presence in the heart of it. But it’s that core which we need to focus on.
Sometimes God’s goodness and love may be obvious – it may overpower our senses through what we see and hear. But sometimes it may be hidden – just as it was to the people of Thessalonica, in a new message shared by a visitor.
What amazes us as we go about our lives? What makes an impression on us?
The great and the good? Physical splendour? Wisdom and intellect? The natural world?
We may find God’s presence in all of these, but we have to look beyond our immediate, superficial wonder. And we need to remember that God can reach out to us in much less impressive ways, in the modern version of an itinerant preacher sharing a new message.