(Written August 9, 2015)
One of the many privileges of serving as the Village Pastor at Holden is looking into the eyes of Villagers and speaking the words each Sunday evening: “The body of Christ given for you.” It’s one of the things I miss.
Would I have presided and preached at Eucharist on August 9, the reading from 1 Kings would’ve drawn me. The prophet Elijah goes one day’s journey into the wilderness, sits alone under a tree and abandons his life to God saying, “It is enough…”
I can’t help but think of the two stories that sandwich this one. They’re both about fire. The story just prior tells of Elijah calling down fire from heaven to consume the prophets of Baal. Given Holden Village’s current situation, Elijah’s arrogant call to the prophet’s of Baal is haunting: “You call on the name of your god, and I will call on the name of [my] GOD. The one who answers by fire – that one is God.”
Elijah seems to have some regrets about all that name-calling and fire stuff. In the August 9 reading he flees fearful for his life. And here he sits. Alone. Nothing to say, but “It is enough.”
But then bread and water. And more rest. And another meal. And more water. And we’re told that it is enough to sustain him forty days and nights in the wilderness. Keep in mind that “forty days and nights in the wilderness” is Bible-talk for, “some intense growth is about to happen.”
What is the bread that sustains you these days of untrodden paths and ventures with unforeseeable endings?
Is it rest and meal with friend or family? Is it Holden Evening Prayer in Seattle or Portland or Chicago or Detroit? Is it a picture of two beautiful boys posted on Facebook? Is it a long-distance phone conversation with a fellow Holdenite?
Instead of speaking the words, “Body of Christ, given for you,” I’ll ask instead: Where has the body of Christ – the bread of life – been given to you these days? What sustains you in this liminal space and time? Where have you found “enough” for the forty days and forty nights ahead?
But after you’ve answered, keep reading. Listen to the story that comes next. Elijah is promised that God will show up again on Mount Horeb. A great and powerful wind tears the mountains apart and shatters rocks. Is God in the wind? No. Then an earthquake. Is God in the earthquake? No. Then a fire. Is God in the fire? I’ll let you guess.
But then comes stillness. Silence. And a voice that asks Elijah, “What are you doing here?” And then this, “Go back the way you came.”
May God’s presence, the bread of life, meal and rest surprise you these days with 'enough' to sustain you for the journey ahead.