Archives for June 2013
Text: 2 Kings 2:1-14
And she stood far off on the bank of the river.
And she said, “For what do I go to this far land which no one has ever reached? Oh, I am alone! I am utterly alone!”
And Reason, that old man, said to her, “Silence! What do you hear?”
And she listened intently, and she said, “I hear the sound of feet, a thousand times ten thousand and thousands of thousands, and they beat this way!”
He said, “They are the feet of those that shall follow you. Lead on! Make a track to the water’s edge! Where you stand now, the ground will be beaten flat by ten thousand times ten thousand feet.” And he said, “Have you seen the locusts how they cross a stream? First one comes down to the water-edge, and it is swept away, and then another comes and then another, and at last with their bodies piled up a bridge is built and the rest pass over.”
She said, “And of those that come first, some are swept away, and are heard of no more; their bodies do not even build the bridge?”
“And are swept away, and are heard of no more—and what of that?” he said.
“And what of that—” she said. “They make a track to the water’s edge.”
“They make a track to the water’s edge—” And she said, “Over that bridge which shall be built with our bodies, who will pass?”
He said, “The entire human race.”
And the woman grasped her staff.
And I saw her turn down the dark path to the river.
“Have you seen the locusts how they cross a stream?” wrote Oliver Schreiner, South African writer and peace activist. There may be no stronger image for that which Jesus says that we, like he, are called, than that of the locusts who attempt to cross the river and, in so doing, make a bridge for others.
This past week, an 84 year-old widow named Edie Windsor made a bridge for others of us to cross over. It was her story that led the United States Supreme Court to strike down the discriminatory Defense of Marriage Act. It was her story of her life with her wife of 42 years, Thea Clara Spyer, that has now changed the course of history – making a bridge for others to walk across.
Text: 1 Kings 19:1-15a
Seldom has a character fallen so far so fast as Elijah in Chapter 19 of 1 Kings. In 1 Kings 18, Elijah was a tower of strength and determination against a massive army of Baal prophets. Four hundred-fifty of them were killed after Elijah called down fire from heaven. His prayers produced astonishing miracles. He even outran Ahab’s chariot in a 17-mile race. But the king’s wife Jezebel, a fanatical follower of Baal, was so unhappy about the outcome of Elijah’s miracles that she threatened to kill him. So despite his decisive albeit violent victory over the Baal priests and their gods, Elijah is on the run when our story begins.
Now he is hungry, exhausted, scared, and even suicidal. Where does he go? Into the wilderness. Where does he take shelter? Under a tree. What does he say? “I’ve had enough.” Then he falls into an exhausted sleep. Eventually an angel wakes him up with instructions to eat the meal that has been prepared for him: a cake baked on hot stones and a jug of water, which is pretty good service in the middle of the wilderness. He eats, goes back to sleep, and then repeats the meal. It is in his spirit of helplessness that God sends an angel to sustain Elijah, ministering to him for 40 days and 40 nights at Horeb. The angel provides the basic sustenance of food and water, but more importantly, this provision allows space for Elijah to recover after the frantic flight from Jezebel. At this point in the tale, we should know that something important is about to occur because Mount Horeb is also known as Mount Sinai, the mountain of God. Echoes of Moses are everywhere in this story. So on God’s mountain the prophet finds a cave where he spends the night.
Text: Luke 7:36-8:3
Since being out of school and in the real world and moving to a new town, I have learned an abundance of approaches on “how to meet someone” that will result in not really getting to know that person at all. Said another way, I have unintentionally become fluent in small talk. You know, the kind of talk that basically produces one-dimensional conversations, and even relationships. True adulthood.
For example, just after I moved to Raleigh, I was invited to hang out with a group of women my age at the park on a beautiful Sunday afternoon. I somehow, within three minutes of meeting these women accidentally launch into full on interview mode. Going around the circle practically asking each woman, one by one, what they did – as in, where they worked. I thought I was starting conversation, but I remember watching each one visibly cringe at the question. Not only does next to nobody want to be talking about work on a beautiful day at the park, but probably more importantly who wants to be pin-holed and defined, right off the bat, by what they do for a living.
My intentions were good but my assumptions and strategy were horrible! Needless to say, nine months later I have only a meager Facebookian friendship with one of these women.
Learning, or figuring out, or getting to know, or seeing people for who they are is no small task – or small talk.