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. 2 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.” 3 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.
4 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. 9 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.
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
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.
Overture – people may still talk, but when it stops – the silence of the music grabs attention.
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…
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.