Touché June 17, 2016
Posted on June 17, 2016 by under Touché,


Elijah and Orlando

“It is enough; now, O LORD, take away my life, for I am no better than my ancestors.”   (1 Kings 19:4)

The last time I preached on Elijah he was doing a victory dance.  God had come down in fire and the flame and Elijah had won the battle against Baal.  Elijah was a winner; Yahweh was victorious and the story should end happily ever after, but it doesn’t.  Jezebel has set her anger on Elijah she is hunting him down like a dog.  Elijah is on the run and hiding.  He is depressed and he prays for death.  .

After forty days he is sleeping in a cave and told to get ready for the revelation of God.  God comes not in an earthquake, or the fire, or the rush of a mighty wind, but in the sound of silence. God speaks to Elijah.  The word that Elijah heard was that God was moving and Elijah could trust him.

Elijah’s spiritual journey is an authentic reflection of the life of faith.  There are glimpses of glory when the truth of God seems clear and without question, but that conviction gives way to doubt and depression in a world that makes no sense.  This week our nation and our world are dealing with another tragedy in a place associated with joy, Orlando.  As our denomination debated at General Synod how to include LGBTQ people in the life of the church, people were gunned down because they were gay and lived in America. God when will this madness end?  How can we live together in this world?

The still small voice came for me Wednesday evening.  As I rode my bike back from our staff retreat I stopped at a prayer service on the lawn of First Congregational Church in Poughkeepsie.  The Dutchess Interfaith Council was offering a candlelight service for the victims of Orlando.  We lit candles and read each name of the victims who died at “Pulse.”  None of my evangelical pastor friends were there, but I met the pastor of First Congregational church and I greeted my friend, Umar who spoke on behalf of the Mid-Hudson Islamic Society. I met the rabbi from Temple Beth-El and heard a Jewish cantor sing a prayer of lament.  Members of the LGBTQ community spoke of the sanctuary of a place like Pulse when houses of worship are often not places they feel safe.

God spoke quietly in that moment, from the brutality of Jezebel, with an assault rifle, came people singing songs of hope that our differences do not have to divide us and kill us.  Elijah went from Horeb in hope knowing that God was still working.  I rode back on the rail trail in hope seeing that God was still working.  I pray each of us can hear in the sound of sheer silence, that is God is working, keep trusting, do not fear.

In Hope,