6.18.2010

Fourth Sunday after Pentecost (Proper 7), Year C

1 Kings 19:1-4, (5-7), 8-15a and Psalm 42 and 43 •
Galatians 3:23-29 •
Luke 8:26-39


We're going to take the liberty this week of choosing the "First Reading," the one that follows a "continuous" reading of signficant events in the Hebrew scripture.

It is hard to know sometimes where our help comes from. Seriously. Remembering some early post-college days, there were months when meager paychecks just couldn't possibly cover the cost of living. And out of no where, a rebate from some distant purchase would show up...or a gift would arrive...or a friend would have a load of leftovers from a party. Or there are days when the weight of the world just rests on our shoulders and we are overcome by a sense of isolation, loss, impotence. And then someone calls or reaches out. Provision, safety, comfort, companionship. Sometimes, even when we don't ask for it, IT JUST SHOWS UP. Whatever IT is and however IT does it.

Now, it doesn't always work this way. And that is part of the mystery too. There isn't always a way out of the tight spot, a satisfying conclusion, salvation or deliverance. It's not universal, predictable or particularly just from our human view of things.

In 1 Kings, we continue with another tale from the life of Elijah. We're reading out of sequence here, so this story actually precedes the events of last week (Jezebel having Naboth stoned so that Ahab could acquire his land - she's pretty vicious!). Elijah has been effectively (albeit violently) routing false prophets and he is threatened by Jezebel. She must have been quite a force to be dealt with as Elijah flees into the wilderness (generally code for personal crisis in the Hebrew scripture). There he prays for his own demise - Lord, take me now. We imagine him falling asleep in a hopeless pile only to be awakened by an angel commanding him to eat. Out of no where he is fed. And then it happens again. And then he has strength for his journey to the mount of Horeb, where he speaks to God. He vents his frustration - he's been loyal. He's has exterminated the prophets of Baal and now he is alone and threatened and afraid. The Lord promises to pass by, but the Lord is not revealed in thurder or earthquake or fire, but instead in "sheer silence." This God isn't always revealed in mighty acts. Sometimes this God shows up in quiet and ordinary ways.

The psalmist, like Elijah in this story, is pleading for God to be revealed and present.

In Paul's letter to the Galatians, he continues the exploration of the relationship between faith and works. He's freeing these people from what he has come to realize are the false boundaries of the Law, inviting them instead to rest in their belief and faith in the teachings of Jesus.

Finally in Luke's gospel, we read one of those memorable healing stories. A demon posessed man is confined to a miserable life among the tombs. This is a man turned out by his community. He was "untouchable" living among the tombs. And Jesus speaks to him, drives a "Legion" of demons out of him and into some nearby pigs who then run into the Sea of Galilee and drown. The townspeople, perhaps overwhelmed by the loss of livestock, drive Jesus out - less impressed by his action in driving out the demons and leaving one man clean than they are with the loss of pigs or so it would seem. The man who had the demons wants to follow Jesus and instead, Jesus sends him back to let the town know exactly what God had done for him through Jesus. It is sort of funny, in a way, that the community really didn't want to see or know more about what God had done (or what Jesus had done) in this situation. It was right there in big bold action and they turned away. And what about the possessed man? Had he asked for help or did it just happen to show up?

It is hard to be a human - to be stuck with need for rational explanations, to have fears and desires. For this week, we just hope that we recognize God when (and if) God shows up.

God,
in earthquakes
and fires
and wind
and silence,
help us be aware
and waiting
and wanting
and receiving.
But also
help us be aware
and poised
and ready
and giving.
Help us show up
to be your light
with others
as well as being aware
of your light
with ourselves.
Amen.

© matt & laura norvell 2010 www.settingourstones.org
we want to share this with you and hope you'll share with the world;
we simply ask that you let people know where you found these words.
May Grace & Peace be with you

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