Still Small Voice

1 Kings 19:1-15 (NRSV)

Elijah Flees from Jezebel

19 Ahab told Jezebel all that Elijah had done, and how he had killed all the prophets with the sword. Then Jezebel sent a messenger to Elijah, saying, “So may the gods do to me, and more also, if I do not make your life like the life of one of them by this time tomorrow.” Then he was afraid; he got up and fled for his life, and came to Beer-sheba, which belongs to Judah; he left his servant there.

But he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness, and came and sat down under a solitary broom tree. He asked that he might die: “It is enough; now, O Lord, take away my life, for I am no better than my ancestors.” 8

 He got up, and ate and drank; then he went in the strength of that food forty days and forty nights to Horeb the mount of God. At that place he came to a cave, and spent the night there.

Then the word of the Lord came to him, saying, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” 10 He answered, “I have been very zealous for the Lord, the God of hosts; for the Israelites have forsaken your covenant, thrown down your altars, and killed your prophets with the sword. I alone am left, and they are seeking my life, to take it away.”

11 He said, “Go out and stand on the mountain before the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.”

Now there was a great wind, so strong that it was splitting mountains and breaking rocks in pieces before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind;

and after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake;

12 and after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire;

and after the fire a sound of sheer silence.

13 When Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his mantle and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave.

Then there came a voice to him that said, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”

 14 He answered, “I have been very zealous for the Lord, the God of hosts; for the Israelites have forsaken your covenant, thrown down your altars, and killed your prophets with the sword. I alone am left, and they are seeking my life, to take it away.”

15 Then the Lord said to him,

“Go, return on your way to the wilderness of Damascus; when you arrive, you shall anoint Hazael as king over Aram.

 

 Homily

 

Silence. It is something which, I think we are all a little uncomfortable with on some level. When talking friends and family we all try to avoid “awkward” silences. At times it can even seem as though we are scared of silence. But what are we afraid of? Why is silence bad? What reason do we have for avoiding silence?

What is it about silence that bothers us?

___________

At times –

Sound is a deflection – distraction

Other times

A filler –

Illus We are collecting offering –                                                                                              or receiving communion                                                                                                          and the music finishes                                                                                                              before the    offering/communion –                                                                                          how does it feel?

Silence –                                                                                                                                   demands attention even more than sound

Illust   Classroom – everyone talking –                                                                           teacher whispers..

and                                                                                                     eventually there is quiet and attention.

Theatre-

Overture – people may still talk, but when  it stops – the silence of the music grabs           attention.

Music –

Used to pass the time – to fill in the   void/silence.

Anyone who has had a hearing test has experienced being in the sound-less  booth with headphones on.

All sound has been blocked out in preparation for the testing. You are in complete silence – soundless ness

As I have said before – I cannot relate to a state of absolute silence—

I have tinnitus which is a syndrome where I have continuous sound in my ears…

Some call it bells…. Ringing…. Buzzing…

  • The closest sound I can compare it to is when the cicadas are at their loudest –
  • I need sound as a distraction ….
  • Thus, I rarely sit in soundlessness…

_________

Silence provides a place where we are confronted with our thoughts and memories –

Thoughts and memories we fear and avoid –

———-

Silence allows us to focus on ourselves – without distractions –

Provides a time when God can speak and we will hear…

The story today is about Elijah who finds himself in deep trouble trying to escape Queen Jezebel who

Elijah has displeased her by having a contest with the priests of Baal – and with God’s help, he beats them – humiliating them and the Queen who worships Baal

  • .  So, Jezebel threatened revenge upon Elijah if she could catch him.
  • He goes into the wilderness to hide –
  • God provided food for him —
  • He went up Mt Horeb/Mt Sinai – Moses/God
  • On the mountain he found a cave for the night-
  • During the night Elijah received the word of God – “what are you doing here?”
  • Then he is told

go and stand on the mountain –         God is going to pass by —

Elijah figured that a God as mighty and powerful as YAHWEH would be revealed in the power of the world around him.

So when the wind became violent, he expected God to be in it…                                             and wasn’t

The same with the          earthquake and the fire…

AND SUDDENLY—– SILENCE

Translated as “a light silent sound

Elijah hears a small voice asking the same question..                                                                 What are you doing here, Elijah?”

We think that God may speak through something dramatic in our lives and expect it to happen in a thunderstorm as the lightning flashes or when the skies are     threatening.

We assume strength and power is expressed in loud noise and big events –

So when we ask God for anything, we look for a flash in the sky – a roll of thunder –

Something huge –

 

But God most often speaks to us in quiet moments – when we can HEAR God –

  • God speaks in the everyday routines –
  • In the healing of a sick body –
  • In the changing of unjust laws –
  • In the words of a friend saying what we need to hear –
  • Even in times of tragedy – that small voice speaks –
  • When our country was forever changed by planes used as weapons –
  • God’s voice quietly spoke through the efforts, courage and determination of those first responders…

 

  • God’s quiet voice spoke through the changing of laws that prevented people to marry because of who they loved.
  • God’s quiet voice speaks in every loving act towards another person or animal.
  • God’s quiet voice speaks in the times of forgiveness –
  • And at times.. God’s still small voice speaks through us…

Illustration=

Sr. Marie Therese Dondja is a Catholic Sister with a scholarship to attend the College of St. Mary to study Early Childhood. She is from the Congo, and plans to return to her work at an orphanage.

The annual income in the Congo is approximately $387.00.

In the six years she has been in
America, she has only seen her family once. That trip home was financed by a philanthropic family. She still has another two years before she graduates and returns home.

I heard a still small voice urge me to embark on a journey to finance a trip home at Christmas for Sister Marie.

In a short few weeks, I had collected not only the price of the plane ticket, but money to cover expenses along the trip.

This was an example of a still small voice speaking through 24 different people – to say YES to answer an unspoken prayer.

 

Laws, Lies and Liability

Matthew 5:17-20           New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

17 “Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets; I have come not to abolish but to fulfill.

18 For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth pass away, not one letter,[a] not one stroke of a letter, will pass

from the law until all is accomplished. 19 Therefore, whoever breaks[b]one of the least of these commandments, and teaches others to do the same, will be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does them and teaches

them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. 20 For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the

scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.

  HOMILY

LAWS LIES AND LIABILITY

 

(Disclaimer – Being that this homily is being posted publicly, I have omitted real names)

 

In today’s world, there is TOO MUCH TO ABSORB–

We are deluged with TOO MUCH going on around us

Too much information

Too Much MISinformation

Who do we believe?

Who do we distrust?

What is real?

What is fake?

____________

THEN what are we to do about it?

Can we determine truth over fiction?

Can we continue to hear falsities until we take them as

truth?

How do we know what to believe and then how do we respond?

____

I hear many of you say that you only watch one news

report a day to avoid all of the cacophony of NOISE/LIES

and interpretations.

  • How do you know which NEWS will give you the facts?
  • Some of us never pick up a newspaper – because it
  • isn’t unbiased.
  • Some of us accept FACEBOOK postings as FACT – and
  • then proceed to SHARE these postings without regard
  • to verifying them first.

The catalyst for my words today is two-fold. ONE – a statement

made by XXXXX XXXXX pastor of XXXXX  Christian Center in XXXXX, Florida,

Who told CBN that if Jesus “had broken the law then He would be sinful

and He would not have been our Messiah.”

This statement caused a firestorm of conversations on

social media. Those who argued in concurrence with

Xxxxx xxxxx, and more who argued against her statements.

Had Xxxxx xxxxx been just a person on the         street, voicing an opinion,

probably nothing would have happened.

BUT XXXXXXXX  is the head of a very large church and is a  televangelist.

THUS – listeners assume she has the educational credentials and

her statements are based in reflective theological study.

This is NOT the case with XXXXX XXXXX –

White has been criticized for being introduced as having, or claiming                                                                                        to have, a doctoral degree, when she has no college or seminary  degree.

This is a solid example of questionable theology –

The second part of this catalyst for today’s message comes from what  happened in Helsinki this week.

President Trump- said     he saw no reason to believe Russia would interfere in the 2016 U.S. election.

When the nation/world responded so vehemently against his  statement, the President announced that he had MISSPOKEN –

and meant to say WOULDN’T –

What are we to believe?

__________

One of the buzz words today is FAKE NEWS –

FACEBOOK and other forms of social media can circulate information around the world in seconds,,,

Or MISINFORMATION

FACEBOOK was used to disseminate erroneous information that affected the election –

It spreads bad information and easily as good – because there is no way to completely guarantee the facts have been checked.

As a former University Reference Librarian

I taught students how to research and be sure to use

Legitimate scholarly sources.

It was much easier in then than it is today because all information resources were                                                  publications and easily verifiable-

Today, the internet provides     monstrous amounts of information  at a keystroke…

Information that can be downloaded by ANYONE –

READER BEWARE

but how do we know it is reliable?

This pertains to spiritual information too.

We hear from our Sunday School teachers – and minister what the Bible says…

And When we read the Bible, we can only interpret as deeply as our own                                                              knowledge—

Our interpretation may not provide a full understanding of the story…

To better understand

We  have to study the context of the time the scripture was       written… the culture of the times…                                              the social norms…the laws…  the government.

Disciples of Christ pride ourselves on our    freedom to interpret scripture for ourselves.                                                                     And in community/church we also have the arena to share and discuss our interpretations

It is our responsibility to seek out the most reliable and verifiable information we can –

Remember the Protestant Reformation was the result of the printing press –

Putting the scriptures into the hands of the people – who up til then had to depend on Priests to interpret and explain scripture.

Once the people  had access to the original information – things changed…

This is why I remind you often you are not to take MY word for it…

Look and learn for yourself.. I only wish to offer more possibilities…

Information is power –

________________________

Now, back to the first catalyst for today’s message…

Xxxxx xxxxx professed that  Jesus did not break the law — because if he had broken the law then He would be sinful and He would not have been our Messiah.”

Her interpretation sounded right – but wasn’t…

Did Jesus break the law?

Was Jesus killed for breaking Roman law?

What laws did he break?

Healing on the Sabbath

Touched Leper

Conversed with women

Conversed with Gentile woman

  • Overturning the money tables at the temple.
  • Eating with “sinners”, people of dubious reputation.
  • Not ritually washing hands before eating.
  • Jesus’ commitment to non-violence

Forgiving people’s sins and thus bypassing the temple sacrifices.

Jesus adhered to the Hebrew laws that were just and humane –

But not if the law came before the wellbeing of a person.

So, Xxxxx xxxxx’s proclamation was not based on sound information – or real study of scripture.

We cannot base our beliefs and knowledge on what we are told – or read online.

We cannot sit back and accept what others tell us… like Doubting Thomas, we have to have a first-hand experience –                        or at least have the news from a reliable source.

WE must be actively involved in the world around us – seeking valid information and not accepting some POST that FACEBOOK uses FORWARD—

That is why I shared a list of reliable news sources so we have a good start at obtaining FACTUAL information ,,,

Scripture warns us of false prophets —

1 John 4:1-6 NIV

1 Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.

2 This is how you can recognize the Spirit of God: Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God,

Matthew 7:15-20 NIV

15 “Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves.

16 By their fruit you will recognize them.

_________________________________

Thanks be to God

God Provides – But Not Always How We ]Expect

Exodus 16:2-15  (NRSV)

The whole congregation of the Israelites complained against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness. The Israelites said to them, “If only we had died by the hand of the Lord in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the fleshpots and ate our fill of bread; for you have brought us out into this wilderness to kill this whole assembly with hunger.”

Then the Lord said to Moses, “I am going to rain bread from heaven for you, and each day the people shall go out and gather enough for that day. In that way I will test them, whether they will follow my instruction or not. On the sixth day, when they prepare what they bring in, it will be twice as much as they gather on other days.” So Moses and Aaron said to all the Israelites, “In the evening you shall know that it was the Lord who brought you out of the land of Egypt, and in the morning you shall see the glory of the Lord, because he has heard your complaining against the Lord. For what are we, that you complain against us?” And Moses said, “When the Lord gives you meat to eat in the evening and your fill of bread in the morning, because the Lord has heard the complaining that you utter against him—what are we? Your complaining is not against us but against the Lord.”

Then Moses said to Aaron, “Say to the whole congregation of the Israelites, ‘Draw near to the Lord, for he has heard your complaining.’” 10 And as Aaron spoke to the whole congregation of the Israelites, they looked toward the wilderness, and the glory of the Lord appeared in the cloud. 11 The Lord spoke to Moses and said, 12 “I have heard the complaining of the Israelites; say to them, ‘At twilight you shall eat meat, and in the morning you shall have your fill of bread; then you shall know that I am the Lord your God.’”

13 In the evening quails came up and covered the camp; and in the morning there was a layer of dew around the camp. 14 When the layer of dew lifted, there on the surface of the wilderness was a fine flaky substance, as fine as frost on the ground. 15 When the Israelites saw it, they said to one another, “What is it?”[a] For they did not know what it was. Moses said to them, “It is the bread that the Lord has given you to eat.

 

 

Homily —

ILLUSTRATION

 

In the mid 1980s, a minister moved to northern Saskatchewan to start a church. As a church planter, part of his support was funded by the local mission. Most months were difficult financially. He had a side Fix It shop business

One week in April, when the ground is still frozen and snow-covered, he was down to only a few dollars in the bank. The usual reaction to that need was to look for our own solution. This time, however, in a stroke of faith, he went before God and told him that he needed eggs, bread, and milk. The minister would wait upon God.

That afternoon, a man came to my little fix-it shop with a leaky teakettle.

He said, “I know I could get another, but it’s my favorite kettle. Please fix it.” In a matter of minutes the job was done, and the minister didn’t even charge him for it.

But the man pulled out a $10 bill and insisted that the minister take it—

It was just enough to buy a gallon of milk, a dozen eggs, and a loaf of bread.

As the man left, the minister, with a bit of pride in his faith decision, thanked God, to which God replied:

“Don’t you wish you had asked for a side of beef?”

—————————–

Anyone who has ever led a large group of people through unfamiliar territory is sure to have heard complaints –

often over trivial matters — from some or even many members of the group.

The complaining can quickly sour relationships and provoke the leader to regret that he or she took the group away in the first place.

The complaining is loud and clear in this Exodus passage. Moses, Aaron and God get an earful.

 

No one likes listening to complaint.

Individuals in power or in the majority can often choose to ignore a complaint,

dismiss it as mere whining, or punish the complainant.

In contrast,

to listen to a complaint involves seeing the world from another’s position and hearing    a call to act.

So – it is not fair to condemn the Israelites for complaining

That is a judgment that the text itself does not make,

sending the message that          complaint has no place in life with God.

But, it does have a place in life with God…

The book of Lamentations, the laments in Psalms give voice

to the human experience of abandonment, suffering, fear, and danger.

The laments call upon God to see, arise, and act

JOB

MAKES a detailed complaint against God’s treatment of the righteous and God’s management of the world.

 

JESUS

Cries out  “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

_________

By complaining – those who are afraid and hungry are expressing their need for God –

Not turning away from God… but let’s  God KNOW things need to be made better.

 

All of us have known times of uncertainty and upheaval.

Times when fear of the  unknown gets the best of us.

 

This story gives the wonderful promise of God’s provision, which is reassuring to                                               all of us.

 

We often let our fears get the better of us…

and fear of the unknown can do it quite easily.

 

This is when we look back to   previous times – to a familiar –

We overlook how bad it was,

 

and remember what might have been better than now…

 

Remember

The past is a known —    something we have already traveled and conquered…

 

BUT

The now and future are undecided…

Unknown…

Scary…

 

 

In our story today,

the need for bread in this early stage of the Journey out of bondage is about                            an opportunity for God and God’s people to get to know each other — understand and           trust   the other…

 

It is the early part of a new relationship –

 

Understandably – the Israelites let their hunger and fears cause doubts in how God was                               caring for them.

 

Within the first month in the wilderness – people were whining and complaining to Aaron and Moses about being hungry and thirsty=–

Where was the food and drink to come from?

 

This is when their fears of the unknown and unseen outweigh their memories of how bad it was for them in Egypt.

 

Because at least in bondage, they were assured food.

 

They fall into that thought –

better the enemy you know –          than the enemy you don’t know

 

Familiarity offers comfort – even in the direst situations…

 

But God heard their complaints – and   sent meat and bread

 

But only a day’s worth….

 

 

Give us this day our daily bread…and meat.

 

What was it that God wanted these people to learn?

 

What is it that God wants us to learn?

Could it be – God wants us to learn that GOD WILL PROVIDE and learn what that looks like?

After the whining and complaining to          Moses and Aaron,

God pours manna from heaven,

And the people didn’t understand it..

They failed to see that God had provided for their needs, because it was not in the form         they had envisioned…

 

Probably expected

Loaves of Rotella Bread

Or      Matza crackers

 

So when they found some flakey substance  scattered on the ground— Manna semi-transparent oleo-gum resin extracted from Commiphora Tree

They did not recognize it was what they needed…

  • I kind of think it is like if
    • we were in a restaurant – ordered a beer and what came to the table was
  • Grain -Barley
  • Hops
  • Yeast
  • Water

Technically, it was beer – just not in the form we expected –

The word manna HEBREW means

What Is It?

When we talk about Manna from Heaven—

We are really saying –

WHAT IS IT? FROM HEAVEN

 

When have we missed what God provides                                                                      because we are looking for something specific?

We miss the manna looking for the McMuffin?

Do we miss the gift because it comes in a different package?

SERMON ILLUSTRATIONS

Once there was a Christian woman who lived next door to an atheist man.

Every day, when the Christian woman prayed, the atheist man could hear her.

The atheist thought to himself, “She sure is crazy, praying all the time like that. Doesn’t she know there isn’t a God?”

Many times while she was praying, he would go to her house and harass her, saying

“Lady, why do you pray all the time? Don’t you know there is no God?” But she kept on praying.

One day, she ran out of groceries and as usual,

she prayed to the Lord explaining her situation and thanking Him for what He was going to do.

As usual, the atheist heard her praying and thought to himself,

“I’ll prove to her there is no God once and for all.”

The atheist went to the grocery store, bought a bunch of groceries, took them to her house, dropped them off on the front porch,

rang the doorbell and then hid in the bushes to see what she would do.

When the Christian lady opened the door and saw the groceries,

she began to praise the Lord with all her heart, thanking God for providing for her needs.

Immediately, the atheist jumped out of the bushes and told her,

 

“You silly lady, God didn’t buy you those groceries, I bought those groceries for you!”

The Christian lady looked to heaven and said with great joy, “God, I knew you would provide me with groceries, but I didn’t know you was         going to make the devil buy              and deliver for them!”

  • God Will Provide
  • _____________
  • We also have to remember that when God provides – it is in GOD’s time

The Israelites HAD to wait on God to          provide in God’s time.

And

Would provide only what was needed for that day –

“Give us this day, our daily bread”

__

Our needs will be filled – as needs arise… without having to HOARD for tomorrow

Luke 12:24 

Consider the ravens: they neither sow nor reap, they have neither storehouse nor barn, and yet God feeds them.

Of how much more value are you than the birds!

Disciples sent out

 [3] He told them: “Take nothing for the journey — no staff, no bag, no bread, no money, no extra tunic. [4] Whatever house you enter, stay there until you leave that town. [5] If people do not welcome you, shake the dust off your feet when you leave their town, as a testimony against them.”

They were to depend on God to provide – through the kindness of strangers…

Their needs would be met, as their needs appeared.

  • ILLUS
  • A pastor needed $1 million for the building they were purchasing.
  • The settlement date was getting closer and closer.
  • The pastor just kept praying.
  • Then the day before settlement date an envelope arrived in the mail.
  • It was a check for $1 million.
  • The pastor said,
  • “GOD, why didn’t you send this earlier?”
  • God said,
  • “You didn’t need it earlier.”

God will ALWAYS provide!

_________________