1 Kings 19:15-21
I hope that you are familiar with the amazing story of the prophet Elijah and his conversation with God at the holy mountain. Elijah had fled into the wilderness, to Mount Horeb— perhaps the same place where God met with Moses the lawgiver. God told Elijah to stand out on the mountainside, where he experienced a great wind, so strong that it was splitting mountains and breaking rocks in pieces… and after the wind an earthquake… and after the earthquake a fire.
Elijah observed that God was not present in that wind, nor the earthquake, nor the fire.
Finally, Elijah heard a “still, small voice” : now he sensed God’s presence.
God asked Elijah, “What are you doing here ?”
Elijah 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 began to give Elijah orders for what he must do next. For one thing, he was to anoint two men with oil, to indicate that God was calling them to be the next kings of the nations of Syria and Israel. Also, Elijah was to anoint a man named Elisha as his own successor as God’s prophet to the nation of Israel.
And, incidentally, God also told Elijah, “I will leave seven thousand in Israel, all the knees that have not bowed to Baal, and every mouth that has not kissed him.” It was God’s way of saying, “Oh, by the way— You are NOT the only one left. Get over yourself.” (1 Kings 19)
This past weekend, I had the pleasure and privilege of attending our Central Atlantic Conference (United Church of Christ) Annual Meeting. It is a shame that more of our Bethel folks do not make the effort to attend these events, nor even Shenandoah Association events, much closer to Elkton. You could if you would.
Spending time with our fellow believers, over meals and through meetings and workshops, we have many opportunities to increase our hope in what God is doing. In these events, we also have many opportunities to hear God’s orders concerning what we might do next. Not only are there plenty of good things we may do: there are plenty of co-workers with whom we may cooperate, to advance God’s reign in this world.
This coming October 23rd, our Shenandoah Association will make it relatively easy for you to come take part in our Association Fall Meeting: it is to be held at our Bethel. Not only can you help provide hospitality to our guests from the other churches: you can join in the programs, worship, and business of the Fall Meeting with folks from Blacksburg to Harpers Ferry and elsewhere who share your faith, hope, and love.
Then, a year from now, June 29 – July 4, 2017, you are invited to make the not-so-long trip to Baltimore’s Inner Harbor to help host the national Synod of the entire United Church of Christ. Stay tuned for details about how to sign up for assignments, for housing while you’re helping there, and more. We can even put on unique activities there, based out of our Bethel or on behalf of the Shenandoah Association. Join me in being excited at the prospect of embracing our sisters and brothers from all over the place who share our faith, hope, and love.
† † †
At the Central Atlantic Conference Annual Meeting, we got to participate in workshops and seminars on some pressing topics of our time.
† Following a hearing which featured a lot of open and lively discussion, a resolution was passed, asking the Conference to encourage local church pastoral search-and-call committees to make deliberate efforts to interview and sincerely consider calling candidates who are not White, straight males.
† A panel consisting of a long-time pastor and civil rights campaigner, a leader of prison chaplains from our own Shenandoah Association (Rev. Lynn Litchfield of GraceInside), and an aide to Maryland’s Governor Larry Hogan (R), gave us a thorough analysis as to why the U.S. and the individual states are imprisoning so vastly many more people— especially Black men— than they did only thirty years ago, and what we can do to improve justice and Christian ministry for people who are caught up in the system.
† A workshop on best practices for ministry with racially diverse communities and congregations.
Bear fruit in the Spirit !!