Archives for June 2013
Text: I Kings 17:8-16
Now hear the rest of the story…
17 After this the son of the widow, the mistress of the house, became ill; his illness was so severe that there was no breath left in him. 18She then said to Elijah, ‘What have you against me, O man of God? You have come to me to bring my sin to remembrance, and to cause the death of my son!’ 19But he said to her, ‘Give me your son.’ He took him from her bosom, carried him up into the upper chamber where he was lodging, and laid him on his own bed. 20He cried out to God, ‘O Lord my God, have you brought calamity even upon the widow with whom I am staying, by killing her son?’ 21Then he stretched himself upon the child three times, and cried out to God, ‘O Lord my God, let this child’s life come into him again.’ 22God listened to the voice of Elijah; the life of the child came into him again, and he revived. 23Elijah took the child, brought him down from the upper chamber into the house, and gave him to his mother; then Elijah said, ‘See, your son is alive.’ 24So the woman said to Elijah, ‘Now I know that you are a man of God, and that the word of God in your mouth is truth.’
When working with newly forming groups, I often use an ice-breaker called, “Two Truths and A Lie.” Many of you who have served on committees and councils with me know this game. The game goes like this. Each person writes down on a piece of paper two truths about themselves and one false statement. For example I might write: I got my first motorcycle when I was four years old. I played on Gardner-Webb’s women’s basketball team while in college. One summer while in college, I parked airplanes at a private airstrip in upstate New York. When it is my turn, I read each statement and the group then tries to decide together which of my statements is not true. The point of the game is for members of the group to learn something personal about each other thus making connections.
I thought of this game when I read the story of Elijah and the widow in I Kings. For sure, there is a lot going on in this narrative. Elijah is doing his best to be God’s prophet in the midst of a three-year drought brought on the people of Israel by God because King Ahab is worshiping Baal – or so the story says. The widow, a Phoenician woman who more than likely worships Baal herself and is on the brink of starvation because of the drought, is just trying to keep herself and her son alive. And then there is God, who according to the story-teller, is creating droughts, staying busy talking to Elijah, magically putting endless meal and oil in two jars and causing the near death of a young son.
Sanctuary Art Project Updates
June 5, 2013–The Visual Imagery Committee (VIC) has been at work over the past several months preparing information for our artist consultant, Catherine Kapikian. We have transcribed, summarized, and categorized all congregant responses received in the spring of 2012 for the art project for our two side sanctuary walls. Responses fell within the following six categories: Feminine Imagery & Women of the Bible; Mystery of Creator God / Creation; Natural World / Nature; Community / Relationships & Affirmation of Them; The Pullen Thread (Values & Ideals We Affirm); and Faith / Mystery of Faith. Ms. Kapikian will use this information as a guide as she creates our sanctuary designs. Ms. Kapikian is working on our designs now. When the design scale models have been submitted to us, the VIC will invite and welcome congregational feedback. More information to come as our design phase progresses!
Text: I Kings 18:20-21; 30-39
It was a day to be remembered, when the multitudes of Israel were assembled at the foot of Mt. Carmel and when the solitary prophet of God came forth to defy the four hundred and fifty priests of the false god Baal. Standing on the hill of Mt. Carmel, and along the plain that day, were three kinds of people. There was the devoted servant of Yahweh, a solitary prophet named Elijah. There were the decided followers of Baal, the fertility god of Jezebel. But the vast majority of people there that day belonged to a third class of people – those who had not fully determined whether to worship Yahweh, the God of their ancestors, or Baal, the god of Jezebel. On the one hand, their ancient traditions led them to fear the God of their ancestors, and on the other hand, their interest in the larger culture led them to bow before the spiritual advisers of a foreign god. Many of the people there that day, were secret and half-hearted followers of Yahweh, while they were the public worshipers of Baal. The text tells us, “They were people limping between two different opinions.”
In a high drama, mountaintop contest between the representatives of two different religions, each trying to prove the superiority of its deity, the prophet Elijah called out not just the boldly defiant, but the passively uncommitted, and asked the people, “How long will you go limping with two different opinions?” It was a provocative and daring question then, and possibly an even more provocative and daring question today. In the changing world that we live in, with so many options and opinions, how do we hear and respond to the prophet’s question: “How long will we go limping between two different opinions?”
I want to speak this morning about how we, as a church, stay grounded in who we are in the midst of a rapidly changing world that does present us with so many choices, so many options and opinions, so many false gods to chase. There are so many altars being torn down and so many new ones being built today. In the midst of the tearing down and rebuilding, “How do we stay clear about who we are, our mission and our purpose in this community and in the world?” Or another way to ask the question is, “How do we keep becoming who we already are in this changing world?”