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Exodus 17In Our Midst

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Fear of abandonment is a horror that grips many and as a result lovers jilt one another so as not to be left by the other, parents abuse their children so as to not be disappointed, colleagues betray one another in order to keep a job, supervisors coerce workers in order to maintain complete control, friends disappear from relationships rather than work through conflict.  We can imagine how the kingdom might bloom if we were to fully comprehend one single fact . . . we are never alone . . . God is with us always and so there is no need to allow the terror of rejection to govern us.

Christ brings us a message of inversion, as we have said in many NoontimesHe tells us that what is up in our physical world is actually down in his.  The poor and the humble inherit, those who mourn rejoice, the hungry and thirsty are sated, and those who suffer persecution because of this belief reign.  When any of my siblings or I complained of an injustice – perceived or real – my mother would remind us easily and with a smile: The first will be last . . . the master is the servant. 

So if we are to live as if we believe in this first is last kingdom-building, we perceive abandonment as its inverted companion . . . union.  Christ is with us to remind us that the jilted are his special loves, the lost children his particular darlings, and the oppressed his best and closest friends.  In today’s Noontime, God shows the Hebrew people how much they are loved.  God tells them that they are not alone.  God reminds them that they are unique and chosen loved ones . . . yet they do not understand.  Across the millennia we hear their cry, see their pain, and we ask as the Hebrews did: Why do we suffer?  Why do things like this happen?  How are we to go on?  We are still God’s stiff-necked people.

Water springing from a rock, manna and quail in the desert: God knows that there are hidden gifts in hard, dry places;  God knows that manna gathers itself like dew in the desert morning;  God knows that great flocks of quail migrate over the wilderness and come to ground to rest; yet we persist in disbelief.  We continue to ask as the Hebrews ask: Is the Lord in our midst or not?   

In verses 8 through 13 we watch Joshua defeat the army of Amalek as long as Moses keeps his hands raised.  This story fascinated me as a child and I spent days lurking behind my brothers and sisters willing them to do things I wanted when I raised my hands to heaven.  God in great wisdom did not answer those requests . . . but God has answered many more as God accompanies me on my journey.

After the defeat of the Amalekites, the Lord says to Moses: Write this down in a document as something to be remembered, and recite it in the ears of Joshua.  In Old Testament language, the Lord tells the people that God will always be among them to defend them; God will not allow them to be wiped out.  God tells them that they are not alone, and that God will bring goodness out of evil . . . always.

We are never alone.  We are constantly loved.  We are rescued, comforted, healed and held . . . always and without fail.  There are no circumstances and no people we need ever fear.  The parched desert and the brutality of the Amalekites in our lives need not send us into panic because God is in our midst.

And so we too, can write this down . . . We have nothing to fear because the Lord will war against our enemies . . . throughout the centuries. 


We will be away from the Internet for several days. Please enjoy this reflection first posted on July 26, 2011. 

Image from: http://gambolinman.blogspot.com/2007/10/southwest-usa-precious-water-abounds-in.html 


Matthew 21:1-11: Shaking the World

Monday, July 16, 2018

Footnotes and commentary will explain much to us in today’s Noontime. The poetic parallelism we find with the words ass and colt in the citation from Zechariah 9:9 may justify the thinking that Matthew was a Gentile; a man practicing the Jewish faith would be accustomed to hearing these double allusions from their rabbi and not confuse the prophecy with reality. We might also learn more about the custom of strewing palm branches during the feast of Tabernacles (Leviticus 23:39-40 and 2 Maccabees 10:5-8) when rededicating a Temple. And finally, scholars will be able to tell us that Matthew uses the participle shaken in verse 11 that was commonly used in the apocalyptic literature of Jesus’ time. In Matthew 8:24 the storm is described with this same verb and the noun in that verse literally means earthquake. Matthew wants to tell us that Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem literally and figuratively shakes the world out of its complacency. (Senior 20, 44-45) This prophet from Nazareth in Galilee who heals the sick, feeds the multitudes, and forgives sins has come to set the world afire . . . and the world is clearly shaken by this message: The Temple is about to fall.

I have friends and family who insist that Jesus came to live with us only so that we might learn how to “get along” with everyone. This thinking conveniently reinforces the idea that living in a loving community means that we turn blind eyes to dishonesty and greed. This view will also have us thinking that in Luke 12:49 and Matthew 10:34-36 Jesus cannot possibly mean that even family members will be pitted against one another when they understand the true meaning of Jesus’ message. For some it is difficult to believe that Jesus is telling his followers – and us – that the habits of a lifetime will have to change: complacency about corruption must end, we cannot condone the oppression of the marginalized, or affirm lies and gossip. We must cease living in excess and we must become humble, patient, and persevering in order to enter the kingdom. We can see why Jesus’ message shook the world in his own time . . . and why his message continues to shake the world today.

When we read these verses and we feel compelled to place the palm branches of our lives on the roadway to welcome this amazing healer who will always put himself last, we must also be willing to follow him into the Temple when he cleanses it.  When we raise our voices in thanksgiving to say Hosanna in the highest, we must also be willing to weep with the women and John the Beloved Apostle to mourn the emptiness of the world without Jesus.  When we shout out to the doubters: This is Jesus the prophet, from Nazareth in Galilee; we must ready ourselves for the cataclysmic shaking that will turn us in a new and life-giving direction we had not thought possible for ourselves or others.  We must ready ourselves for the shaking of the world and the rebuilding of the Temple.  And so we pray . . .

When the earth yawns open to swallow us whole, let us stand firm on the lessons Jesus has taught us. 

When the coming storm gathers dust into lethal clouds, let us hunker down to shelter in the arms of our loving God.

When Jesus shakes the world into God’s new reality, let us not cry out against it. 

Let us welcome this shuddering new birth . . . knowing that with the passing of the storm the Spirit who has abided with us . . . will nourish us anew. 


Senior, Donald, ed. THE CATHOLIC STUDY BIBLE. New York, Oxford University Press, 1990.20, 44-45. Print. 

We will be away from the Internet for several days. Please enjoy this reflection first posted on July 25, 2011.

Images from: http://www.simonedwards.me/?p=76 


Isaiah 44: Chasing Ashes

Sunday, July 15, 2018

Cyrus the Great

Founder of the Persian Empire, Cyrus inherited a small kingdom and expanded it to include what we know today as Iran and much of Turkey.  He captured Babylon in 539 B.C.E. and although he did not worship the God of Israel, he proved to be “a beneficent king who allowed captive people to return to their homelands and restore their places of worship”.  (ARCHAEOLOGICAL STUDY BIBLE 669). We cannot know his motivation for allowing the Jewish people to return home after exile, but we do know that Cyrus II – the Anointed of the Lord who becomes the Liberator of Israel – believed in Marduk, the mythological god of Babylon.  As many have commented, we can never anticipate the wisdom or plans of God.  Hear then, whom I have chosen . . .

Many times I wonder how God has chosen the agents who do God’s work: stumble-bum leaders, hard-edged colleagues, the apparent liberal who leans toward conservatism, and the seemingly empty-headed support personnel who deliver wisdom during crisis.  I have learned to be on the lookout for God’s anointed even as I try to steer clear of false idols; and I wonder about my own fidelity to God and my success as his agent.  Hear then, whom I have chosen . . .

Isaiah warns us against replacing God with idols that bring us no help and cause us too much maintenance work.  Smiths and carpenters do not reflect, nor have the intelligence and sense to see that the bits of iron and wood they fashion into idols are no god at all . . . Half the wood was burned in the fire, and on its embers I baked bread and roasted meant which I ate. Shall I then make an idol of the rest, or worship a block of wood?  Like these smiths and carpenters, we daily set up little gods to worship when we worry about our next meal, the clothes we will wear to the gym or pool, the roof on the house or the brakes on the car that need repair, our position at work, the fussy chair of the civic committee on which we serve.  When we set aside our prayer time with God because we want to fret about these worries, we have surrendered to our little gods.  He is chasing ashes, a thing that cannot save itself when the flame consumes it . . .

Volcanic ash cloud

We might wonder as we reflect on today’s Noontime how it is that God has so much patience with us when we turn to the inanimate to fuss and cajole the objects in our surroundings into pleasing us.

We might wonder how it is that God has so much forgiveness with us each time we return to him that he continues to encourage us and grace us with his presence.

We might wonder how it is that God has so much imagination that God will use a believer in a pagan god as the anointed one to help the faithful return from an exile their own corruption gained for them.

We might wonder how it is that God has so much compassion for each of us that despite our times of coldness and our turnings away, God continues to heal, restore, redeem and save us.

We might wonder how it is that God loves us eternally and wishes to be with us forever . . . despite the countless times we leave God to chase after ashes.

Volcanic ash

We might wonder . . . and yet God is the one who pours out water on the thirsty ground, knits us his offspring in the womb, pours out his spirit on us, and lays blessings on our descendents. 

We might wonder, yet we need not . . . for God chases after us . . . even as we chase after the ashes of our own folly.


For more information on Cyrus II (Cyrus the Great) who appears at the end of Isaiah 44, go to this site and also follow the link to farsinet.   http://gracewalk.wordpress.com/2006/11/14/cyrus-the-great-isaiah-45/

ARCHAEOLOGICAL STUDY BIBLE (NIV). Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan, 2005. 669. Print.

Images from: https://gracewalk.wordpress.com/2006/11/14/cyrus-the-great-isaiah-45/  and http://www.csmonitor.com/World/Europe/2010/0419/Volcanic-ash-cloud-economics-Europe-s-winners-and-losers and http://www.csmonitor.com/World/Europe/2010/0419/Volcanic-ash-cloud-economics-Europe-s-winners-and-losers

We will be away from the Internet for several days. Please enjoy this reflection first posted on July 24, 2011.


3 JohnCo-Workers in the Truth

Saturday, July 14, 2018

The author of this brief letter is believed to be the Apostle John and it gives us a window on the world of the early church with its factions and arguments.  We see the interwoven themes of hospitality, truth, and love . . . three concepts we might spend time with today.

In the jumble of names we might finally work out that the leader Diotrephes has stepped outside of the Johannine tradition by refusing hospitality to some of John’s disciples.  This action would be counter to the kind of behavior Jesus nurtured among his own apostles, and counter to the traditions of the early church.  “Itinerant Christian preachers were dependent upon the hospitality of Christians among whom they ministered.  This built up networks between the scattered churches and fostered a sense of solidarity.  The local churches saw themselves as belonging to the one church, united around the foundational truth of the Gospel”. (ARCHAEOLOGICAL STUDY BIBLE 2035) In this ancient culture, hospitality was essential.  Travel by foot through arid and sometimes hostile regions required open homes and welcoming brothers and sisters at journey’s end.  Generosity with one’s goods and time was essential for survival in this environment.  Fear of false teachers was and is a legitimate concern, but we know from this short letter that the rejected missionaries had been sent by John himself so certainly there was no reason for alarm.  As John writes: We ought to support such persons, so that we might be co-workers in the truth.  John appeals to those who want to withdraw into a purist sect and he points out that separatism is counter to Jesus’ universal call to unity.  Jesus’ truth-followers seek union with others – not separation or elitism.  John urges his fellow Christians to support his faithful ministers so that they might be seen as messengers of Christ’s word rather than ordinary pagan beggars who lived off the goodness of others with little or no contribution to society.

In today’s Noontime we hear an echo of John’s assertion in his first letter that what the apostles have seen with their eyes, heard with their ears and touched with their hands can be believed.  Jesus was among them . . . he died . . . he rose again and is with them still.  This is a truth that cannot be denied and it is an absolute demonstration of Jesus’ love for humanity.  John tells us that we in turn must demonstrate our belief in this reality by offering open arms and welcoming hearts to fellow co-workers in this truth.

When we read this letter carefully, we see the elements of a prudent and wise method of confronting the obstinate, self-centered rejection of goodness: Send an opening greeting with an offer of dialog, recommend continued conversation, delineate the points of argument, and center all decisions on Gospel thinking of unity through variety.  In 1 Corinthians 12, Paul expresses clearly how Christ creates the union of diverse parts: There are different kinds of spiritual gifts but the same Spirit; there are different forms of service but the same Lord; there are different workings but the same God who produces all of them in everyone.  To each individual the manifestation of the Spirit is given for some benefit.  We are reminded by both John and Paul that not one of us has sole possession of truth . . . yet Christ’s truth lives in the gathering up of all who believe and act in him.

When we open our hearts and homes for Christ to act through us, we become the co-workers John speaks of today, we become seekers of Christ’s truth rather than our own.  We become co-workers in the only truth that matters.   This we can believe.

ARCHAEOLOGICAL STUDY BIBLE (NIV). Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan, 2005. 2035. Print.


We will be away from the Internet for several days. Please enjoy this reflection first posted on July 23, 2011.

Tobit 2: Mockery


Tobit 2: Mockery

Friday, July 13, 2018

It is so easy to say that the story of Tobit is about healing and reparation and then move on to another story; yet today’s Noontime gives us the opportunity to sit with a portion of this narrative and to reflect on its meaning in our own lives.  We see Tobit’s virtue and courage in the first chapter where he is introduced; and we understand that he is a Jewish man who practices his faith and lives with his family in exile in Nineveh, Assyria.  Tobit is unusual, however, in that he shares his meal and his clothes with the poor, and he buries the dead bodies of those slain by the enemy and left for the birds and animals to consume.  On this particular day, Tobit has brought back the corpse of a man that was left in the market.

Commentary will point out that Tobit enters the house after a simple ablution and does not wait for the ritual seven days as is required in Numbers 19:11-19. He washes himself, eats his meal, and while he waits for sunset so that he might bury the unknown man, he meditates on Amos 5:11 and 8:4-6 from the prophecy which criticizes the wealthy who trample the poor and steal their grain rather than feeding or helping them.  Tobit cries at all of this sadness and finally he buries the dead man once the sun has gone down.  As a consequence of all of this goodness, he is mocked by his neighbors . . . and even his wife.  We do not know if Tobit sleeps outdoors because of the heat or because he has been in contact with a dead body, but in either case, the consequence is the same . . . he becomes blind.  In this way, the writer sets up the story for us: “The pious Israelite suffers because he attends to the needs of others”.  (Mays 722)

When we reflect on Tobit’s circumstances we might find ourselves in his story.  How often do we follow the rules – even at great emotional and fiscal cost – yet we feel blind to the success others enjoy and are even made to feel foolish?  We know that others do not adhere to the basic requirements of life and yet they seem to suffer no negative consequences.  We may find ourselves wondering why we do what God asks if all we receive in return is the disdain of others.  We see that ridicule and derision are the tools most frequently used by those who operate in cliques.  Respect for one another, a sense of fair play, and reward for doing as God asks seem at first to bring fierce suffering rather than reward and The wicked freely strut about when what is vile is honored among men. (Psalm 12:8The good man suffers because he attends to the needs of others.  So why try to do as God asks if the reward is . . . mockery?

We cannot in one day hope to understand why bad things happen to good people and why bad people seem to live free of consequence.   We can, however, begin to take small steps toward the understanding that God brings goodness out of evil . . . always . . . that the wicked only appear to escape consequence . . . always . . . that goodness brings a reward from God far greater than any we can devise for ourselves . . . always . . . and that it is in union with God that we experience true and lasting happiness . . . always.

Jesus himself is ignored and mocked by many.  Why should we be excluded from this treatment at the hands of those who fear goodness?  From childhood I was taught that self respect is the only respect we need earn.  I learned from my parents that cliques are formed by those who need them most.  I was taught to see that blindness comes in many forms and that what we call disability can actually be a boon.

As an adult I have come to understand how wise my parents were, and I try to pass this wisdom on to my children and grandchildren.  I have come to know that the only good opinion that matters is God’s; and that I need not unravel all the evil in the world or convert all the wicked.  I recognize that God has asked me to play a role in his kingdom building . . . and this I try to do as well as I am able each day, trying to see creation as God does – as the dawning of something new and beautiful each day.  So this is how I have arrived at responding to anyone who may ridicule me for conforming to God’s will: I live in the belief that those who practice exclusion rather than inclusion live in fear . . . and that those who mock us most are most in need of our understanding, our patience, our prayer and our love.

Mays, James L., ed.  HARPERCOLLINS BIBLE COMMENTARY. New York, New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 1988. 722. Print.


Image from: https://www.nasa.gov/content/goddard/earth-from-space-15-amazing-things-in-15-years

We will be away from the Internet for several days. Please enjoy this reflection first posted on July 22, 2011.


Judges 7: Following God’s Lead

Thursday, July 12, 2018

There is a value in reading scripture slowly while allowing time for reflection and meditation for in this way small themes are given time to blossom into guidelines for living.  Today we find a significant idea hidden in the story of the defeat of Midian and it is this.  God knows us so well that God forestalls human pride by asking us to rely on only God.  In today’s story God asks Gideon to whittle his troops from thirty-two thousand to three hundred.  And Gideon does this without questioning; he knows how reliable his God is.

The culling process here is an unusual method for an army.  On God’s instruction, Gideon first reminds his troops of the dangers of battle; later he watches how they drink water from the river.  He does not appear to question God’s wisdom and he shows no anxiety; he knows how reliable his God is.

Once the three hundred come together, Gideon gives them no more instruction than this: Watch me and follow my lead.  After the winnowing process, these loyal soldiers follow Gideon just as he follows the Lord; they know how reliable their God is.

Lying in wait outside the camp, Gideon and the third of the men who are with him overhear the telling of a dream by one of the Midian soldiers.  The ominous conclusion is that although the Midianites, Amalekites and Kedemites are numerous as locusts, and although their camels number more than the grains of sand in the desert, the Israelites will be victorious.  The Israelites show no angst about having reduced their number to three hundred; they know how reliable their God is . . . and the enemy flees.

The Lord pronounces to Gideon: You have too many with you for me to pronounce you successful lest you vaunt yourself against me and believe that your own power brought you victory.  This is the theme we see repeated often in Judges.  The people cry out for help, Yahweh hears their cry and rescues them, once the people feel comfortable in their own skill and power they turn back to the pagan Baals . . . and the cycle repeats again.  In Gideon’s story, we see the faith-filled soldiers put their trust in this God who has saved them countless times because . . . they know how reliable their God is.

So often I have sat in meetings and watched someone defend their right to make unilateral decisions, forgetting that all comes from God, even the gift of leadership.  I have watched these leaders struggle to bring others together behind their decisions not understanding that people follow best when decisions come from God rather than from human ego.  They have forgotten – or perhaps have never known – how reliable their God is.

We can rebel against these leaders or we can witness our own confidence in God to them.  The choice is always ours.  Rather than react in fear, we can act in reliance – just as Gideon does in today’s story, and just as his soldiers do – we can demonstrate to others through our lack of arrogance just how reliable is our God.

And so we pray . . . Powerful and loving God, you know us so well that you understand our tendency to take credit for your gifts.  You know that we are inclined to strut with pride when we are successful and complain in fear when we fail.  You know that we often believe in ourselves more than we believe in you.  Strip us of all hubris and arrogance; bring us humility and modesty.  Wipe away our anxiety and fill us with your love.  Remind us to follow your lead just as Gideon and his soldiers do.  Remind us that when we rely on ourselves alone . . . we forsake the gift of your wisdom and authority that you so freely give to those who follow you.  Tell us again what you have already shown us but that we have so quickly forgotten . . . that we need not fear anyone or anything . . . for we know how reliable our God is.  Amen. 


We will be away from the Internet for several days. Please enjoy this reflection first posted on July 21, 2011.

Image from: https://dwellingintheword.wordpress.com/2016/04/20/1818-psalm-3/ 


Numbers 4Definition

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

We all know people who want to follow blindly; they do not want the responsibility of defining their work or of finding creative solutions to complex problems.  Their world is a construct of simple yes/no options with all questions answered by thumbing through regulations until the proper – and appropriate – solution is found.  Roles are defined by strict standards; rules are enforced without deference to circumstance.

We also know people who do not want to follow; they ignore or even shun any structure which holds them accountable.  Their world is built of elegant faerie castles with convoluted passageways and hidden places where the secrets that govern decisions are stored but rarely used.  The definition of role is determined each day by personal whim, and rules are changed according to some mysterious set of guidelines.

In today’s Noontime we find a set of duties laid out for the Levite priests that were meant to keep the covenant promise with God intact . . . and were also intended to prepare the people for the desert trek toward the Promised Land.  Regimentation and obedience are needed when the pressures of life become overwhelming.  In dire circumstances the standard rules may not apply and normal roles may change.  Flexibility will have to be matched by fidelity.  Creativity must be balanced by sensibility.  In order to survive the desert winds as we journey from oasis to oasis, we will have to balance carefully on the tightrope between passion and prudence.  This will only happen well when we understand our role as Children of God.  It can only happen with serenity when we understand our responsibility as Children of the Kingdom.  It can only happen in joy when we understand our definition as Children of Love.

It is not enough to follow blindly in the kingdom; we are called to develop an informed conscience so that our decisions flow from the Gospel Tenets.  Nor is it sufficient to hide passively or to strike out entirely on our own; we are called to act in accord with the Gospel Teachings that require us to love God and others before self.

When we act in accord with who God calls us to be then we have no need to hide; nor do we have a need to control.  When we act in accord with who we are – God’s children created in love to love others and to be loved – then the thin tightrope of the desert journey becomes a simple path.

And so we pray . . . Good and gracious God, you established the Levite priests to help your faithful make the arid journey safely to their promise.  You guide and protect us today just as you lead and guarded the Hebrew people through the Sinai.  Help us to better recognize what you require of us.  Help us to better appreciate who we are.  Help us to better value one another as we journey always to you.  And help us to better understand that we define ourselves best when we begin that definition with you.  Amen. 


We will be away from the Internet for several days. Please enjoy this reflection first posted on July 20, 2011.

Image from: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tightrope_walking


Genesis 27Deception

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Govert Flink: Isaac Blesses Jacob

No matter how many times I read this story I continue to be curious about Rebekah, the woman who changes the course of history when she urges Jacob to deceive his aging father in order to steal his brother’s birthright.  In her elegant yet simple scheme she takes on all culpability and allows both Jacob and Isaac to stand by passively as the story unfolds.  This dichotomy of action versus inaction is reflected in the values these family members choose; and it calls us to examine our way of relating to others in this world.

From the HARPERCOLLINS BIBLE COMMENTARY (99): “Jacob’s disguise involves his wearing his brother Esau’s clothing; as will be seen, deception involving clothing is an important motif in the narrative about Jacob’s beloved son Joseph (37:31-33)”.  A son deceives his father . . . this son is in turn deceived by his own sons.  We can only wonder if years later Jacob sees this echo of himself in any way when he realizes what has happened to his beloved son, Joseph.   In all of this deception, the result is the same: separation from those we love and pain we had not intended.  The joy and hope we looked for cannot flourish in a life of shadows and secrets.  The irony is not lost on us that by participating in fraud, we may gain our immediate objective . . . but we will also experience a lifetime of rippling, unforeseen consequences that we may not want or like.

Giovanni Antonio Pellegrini: Rebekah at the Well

We humans struggle to climb to the top of the heap, to arrive first, to be the most liked, the best fed, shod and clothed.  Many of us use any means to justify this end while others of us reject deception of any kind to hug closely the values of integrity and honesty.  This uncomplicated choice of deceit versus honesty is presented to us in Psalm 101: Norm of Life for Rulers.  We may want to pray it today as we consider who we choose as our companions in life . . . and who we are as companions to others.

I follow the way of integrity . . . I do not allow into my presence anyone who speaks perversely . . . I shun the devious of heart; the wicked I do not tolerate . . . Those who follow the way of integrity, they alone can enter my service.  No one who practices deceit can hold a post in my court . . . I look to the faithful of the land; they alone can be my companions. 

Mays, James L., ed.  HARPERCOLLINS BIBLE COMMENTARY. New York, New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 1988. 99. Print.


To visit a site with art through the ages about this story, go to: http://www.bible-art.info/Rebecca.htm

Images from: https://www.artbible.info/art/large/83.html and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rebecca

We will be away from the Internet for several days. Please enjoy this reflection first posted on July 19, 2011.


1 Kings 17Moving On

Monday, July 9, 2018

Il Guercino: Elijah Fed by Ravens

So the Lord said, move on . . .

This two-part story reminds us that God provides for those who are willing to follow him; and it also tells us that we cannot snuggle into the comfort of a refuge we know well.  Our true security rests not in the safe harbors we find in life . . . but in our relationships and in the trust we place in God.  This is the message we find in the verse that bridges the two parts of today’s Noontime. 

The prophet Elijah has reason to fear Ahab.  The king’s wife Jezebel has made it plain that her goal is to rid the kingdom of prophets and this is the likely reason that Elijah hides as the Lord bids him after he delivers his fearsome prophecy to King Ahab.  Concealing himself in the Wadi Cherith, he survives with water from the stream and food brought to him by ravens.  All seems safe and well . . . until God calls him to Zarepthath of Sidon.  Rather than hold onto the security he has found in the wadi, Elijah moves on – as God asks – to help first a widow and then later her son.  Elijah not only improves the lot of this impoverished little family to make the world a more humane place, he also allows himself to know God more intimately . . . he moves out of his safety zone to bring life to those who barely eke out a living.

So the Lord said, move on . . .

Bernardo Strozzi: Elijah and the Widow of Sarepta

Each of us has known times when we would rather remain wrapped in our sanctuary, blocking out the horror of a cruel world so that we might live happily and blindly.  Oh how much easier, we say to ourselves, to remain in well-known territory in order to stay away from the uncomfortable parts of life.  Yet when God calls, we must move on.

We may have experienced for a time the desperation of not knowing where we will find the food to feed our families.  Perhaps we have suffered the misery of working with a colleague who has condemned us or of going home to a loved one who has rejected us.  Maybe we have crept to the edge of life itself thinking it better to bring all to an end.  These are the times when a kind look, a warm smile or a gentle touch heals the wounded heart.  This is when a few understanding words that acknowledge pain without censure bring the sweetest balm of all . . . the healing hand of one who has moved out from a safe harbor to bring others safely home.

We may say that not all of us can be Elijah for we cannot resuscitate life.  In truth, this does not matter.  God knows the prophet, God knows the widow, and God knows each of us.  This alone is enough for us to take courage, it is enough for us to move on.


Images from: https://www.artbible.info/art/large/730.html and https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Bernardo_Strozzi_-_Prophet_Elijah_and_the_Widow_of_Sarepta_-_WGA21919.jpg 

We will be away from the Internet for several days. Please enjoy this reflection first posted on July 18, 2011.

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