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Lenten Devotions from Fourth Presbyterian Church

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Today’s Scripture Reading | 1 Kings 19:9–18

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?” 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.” 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; and after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire; and after the fire a sound of sheer silence. 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?” 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.” 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. Also you shall anoint Jehu son of Nimshi as king over Israel; and you shall anoint Elisha son of Shaphat of Abel-meholah as prophet in your place. Whoever escapes from the sword of Hazael, Jehu shall kill; and whoever escapes from the sword of Jehu, Elisha shall kill. Yet I will leave seven thousand in Israel, all the knees that have not bowed to Baal, and every mouth that has not kissed him.” (NRSV)

Reflection
Though I have never experienced “sheer silence,” I used to be afraid of “regular” silence. If I were at home alone, I would turn on the radio for background noise. Perhaps that was because we lived in a quiet place at that time—a house on the side of a mountain, where the only nighttime noises were the sounds of nighttime creatures and the wind in the trees. I didn’t realize how quiet it was until we moved here into the middle of the city. Now sirens and car horns, the rumble of the “L,” and the hustle and bustle of people form my daily soundtrack. It is the soundtrack of colorful chaos, and I love it. But as a result, I am no longer afraid of silence. Rather, I welcome it and yearn for it. I look for moments when quiet can surround me and I can simply breathe.

Is that how Elijah felt? Did he just need to escape the chaos and breathe? Perhaps. For when he did that, he discovered he was ready and able to recognize God’s presence when God showed up, even in a very unexpected way.

Are you? Am I? As we live in the middle of all our colorful chaos, do we proactively practice silence enough that we, too, might be ready and able to recognize God when God shows up?

May it be so.

Prayer
Mysterious God, help me to quiet the noise both within and without, that I might be able to hear you as you call. Help me to find those times and places when I can lay the chaos down for a while in order to breathe in your presence. Thank you for spaces of silence. Amen.

Written by Shannon J. Kershner, Pastor


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