2 Pentecost (Proper 7)
June 23, 2019
Mother Meg Lovejoy+
In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
When Elijah heard that Jezebel vowed to have him killed, he felt he had failed in his work as God’s prophet, so he headed into the wilderness to die. But God wasn’t ready for him to die and still had plans for him. Angels were sent to provide nourishment to Elijah and he wandered forty days and forty nights until he arrived at Mount Horeb. In the Old Testament, Horeb was the place where God was believed to reside. Moses went up Mount Horeb to talk to God. Just as Moses was told to climb the mountain, Elijah was told to stand on the mountain and watch for God. Elijah didn’t find God in the wind. Elijah didn’t find God in the earthquake or the fire. Elijah found God in the silence. In this silence, Elijah realized that God works not only in the triumphs of life, but also in times of what seem to be failure. He realized that God was still with him and still whispered to him that his work was needed. So when God sent Elijah on his way, he went without a word, and changed history through his words to the people of Israel.
To recognize that God is present with us always is transformational. During my period of discernment, I was unsure of what God was asking me to do. There were times that I thought it was foolhardy to go back to school and begin a totally new career, especially at my age. Who was I to think that God had spoken to me and called me to be a priest? But that still, small voice of God was with me and helped me get through all the difficult times. God is always with us; sometimes, we just don’t still ourselves to be able to hear the message.
Paul said it so beautifully in his letter to the Galatians. Before Christ, we had only the law to keep us close to God. But through Christ, we no longer need the law because we have been justified by faith. Jesus, the great equalizer, has assured us that through our baptism, we are clothed in him. As children of God there are none greater than the other; our human distinctions are removed. Ethnicity, gender, social status make no difference, because Christ Jesus has made it possible for our eternal life as one with God.
Brother James Koester said, “ God is not some unknowable, divine being, far removed from human life. Rather, God is known and experienced in the tiny moments of daily living. We see God in the wonder and beauty of creation, and in the awe of worship; we touch God, in the person of Jesus, and the simple elements of bread, wine, water, and oil; we know God, who is closer to us than even our own breath.”
Perhaps you have known what the psalmist felt with the words, “As the deer longs for the water-brooks, so longs my soul for you, God”. (Ps 42:1) Maybe you’ve cried out to God in sorrow, pain, or anger. The psalmist also says, not once, but 3 times, “Put your trust in God; for I will yet give thanks to him, who is the help of my countenance, and my God.” (Ps 42: 7, 42:15, and 43:6) God is that source of solace and comfort, as refreshment to a person distraught: water that quenches the fire of distress. We can grasp and hold onto that knowledge as we face those difficult times.
As baptized Christians, we all are called to do God’s work. Our Outline of Faith, more commonly known as the Catechism, found in the Book of Common Prayer beginning on page 845, explains there are four types of ministers in the church. In the BCP the order that things are listed is the order of importance. And the first minister listed is lay persons. Lay person is you and you have a most important role in the life of the church and in spreading the Good News of Christ Jesus. You are in the world. You are with friends, co-workers, colleagues, and family members every day. Collectively, you, and I mean all of you, will be exposed to more people in the world than any bishop, priest, or deacon ever will be. So what is it that God calls you to do? Maybe it’s providing that loving touch or hug. Maybe it’s providing words of encouragement. Maybe you can speak of your faith that God is always with us, even when we’re struggling, in pain, sad and lonely. For others to know they are not alone can be lifesaving. You can encourage those you know to find a place to worship with a community. And when you’re doing this, share your joy of knowing that we all are loved, always, no matter what. When I walked down the aisle and read the Gospel today, did you maybe think I had gone too far? The message I want to share with each of you is that YOU are to carry the Gospel into the world. That world is outside the doors of this church.
We often are aware of God’s presence, yet miss the gentle, inviting voice of God because we are immersed in the noise of our lives. We sometimes think that God is only in the excitement, the wild dance and bright lights of our lives. Yes, God is there, but maybe God has to shout at us to overcome the busy-ness of our lives. Maybe we surround ourselves with all this noise and busy-ness to keep us company and to try to overcome loneliness. Yet we can learn to cultivate an inner solitude and allow silence in our lives which, in turn, will allow us time to hear the divine whisper just a little better. Our solitude can become a place of inner fulfillment. For when God whispers, we are drawn into God’s heart. May we find comfort in solitude. May we listen when God whispers. And may we then go out into the world and share the message of God’s love.