Service Recap; May 29, 2016

This week Caleb, our pastoral intern, led us in a thoughtful reflection on how to be at ease with oneself in the presence of a loving God. Remarkably, he culled his insights from an Old Testament narrative that is replete with pyrotechnics and violence. More about that in a minute. Caleb began his homily by graciously inviting us into a period in his life when he struggled so deeply with anxiety that silence became incredibly difficult - to the point that he had to have earbuds in all the time. He needed the sports podcasts or the tunes to tune out the nagging thoughts that he wasn't going to measure up as husband, or pastor, or you name it.

From Caleb's recent trip to Israel, taken on top of Mt. Carmel.

From Caleb's recent trip to Israel, taken on top of Mt. Carmel.

He jumped nimbly from that moment of transparency to a momentous event in the history of Israel, a day full of anxiety for many, but full of restful confidence for one man, Elijah. The story of Elijah and the prophets of Baal is immediately for Israel a cautionary tale, extolling the magnificence of Israel's God and warning against chasing after the so-called gods of Canaan. You can read the narrative of the events in 1 Kings 18:20-39. Suffice it to say, the prophets of Baal were anxious all day long, as they limped about in circles, raving and shouting, self-mutilating, trying their religious best to get the favorable attention of a god that never answered. Meanwhile, Elijah, without breaking a sweat, and after a running commentary, thick with sarcasm (maybe Baal is asleep - yell louder!) invokes the presence of the God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel, who promptly responds and consumes Elijah's sacrifice with flames from heaven.

The day of the showdown between Elijah and the prophets of Baal begins with this question that Elijah puts to the people: "How long will you go on limping with two opinions. If the Lord is God, follow him, but if Baal then follow him."  God is jealous for our loyalty but not so that he can prop up his ego. God wants us to worship him and him alone because only in the gifts of his love, grace, and empowering presence can we be confident in who we are meant to be. The anxious voices in our head invite us to measure up to some ideal version of ourselves that is good enough to get God's favorable attention and merit the favor of others - may as well limp about all day waiting on an idol to show up and approve of you. Better to be like Elijah and take God at his word. The Lord our God is the one who accepts us as we are, forgives all of our sins, and sets our lives on the path of wholeheartedness.

Communion Song

Prayers

  • Pray for those who have lost their lives to war. Pray for families whose lives have been upturned by war and violence.
  • Pray for those in our own city whose lives have been upturned by violence.
  • Pray for peace.

Announcements

  • There will be a vote next week after church to confirm Elders and Deacons. All members are invited to vote.
  • There will be a potluck on June 12, and we will be hosting guests from General Synod.
  • Summer hours will begin on June 19th. Service will begin at 9:30am
  • HUNGER WALK is June 25th. Sign up to Volunteer to help out by responding through the church email this week!