This text is used for the Lectionary Year C on June 5, 2016.
There is an interesting phenomenon that runs consistently throughout the events of human history. When an individual takes a bold stand for what is good and right in the face of a culture filled with what is bad and wrong, all those who had chosen not to take a stand label that individual a hero. Whether it is St. Catherine of Siena in 14th Century Italy nursing those whom others were afraid to touch or Martin Luther in 16th Century Germany calling for integrity and truth in the Church or Rosa Parks in 20th Century America sitting still and exposing injustice, heroes live among us. Even those without courage recognize it when they see it and honor those who use it. Like a diamond against black velvet, the contrast is simply too glaring to deny. That was precisely the scene that had been set when the Prophet Elijah burst suddenly onto the stage of Israel’s tumultuous history.
For 42 years King Asa reigned in the southern kingdom of Judah in a manner that delighted the heart of God. During those same 42 years the northern kingdom of Israel went through six kings with reigns that lasted anywhere from seven days to twenty-two years…with all six reigns characterized by evil, blasphemy, and degradation. When Elijah appeared in 1 Kings 17, Israel was ruled by King Ahab who “did evil in the sight of the Lord more than all who were before him” (16:30) and who ultimately married a heathen named Jezebel, daughter of the king of Sidon—King Ethbaal (“with Baal”). Ahab joined his new bride in her idolatrous worship of Baal.
This text is used for the Lectionary Year C on May 29, 2016.
The lyrics of the old hymn are:
He didn’t bring us this far to leave us. He didn’t teach us to swim to let us drown. He didn’t build His home in us to move away. He didn’t lift us up to let us down.
Faith is often strengthened and rejuvenated simply by remembering what God has done. There is great merit in the admonition to “count your many blessings; name them one by one.” God is faithful. Not sometimes. All the time. God is love. Not as a whimsical emotion, but as the very core of His being. The prolific songwriter, Dottie Rambo, said it like this:
Roll back the curtain of memory now and then. Show me where You brought me from and where I might have been. Remember I’m human and humans forget, So remind me, remind me, Dear Lord.
This text is used for the Lectionary Year C on May 22, 2016.
There are two ways to travel through life. Either we travel as though we are riding in “bumper cars” at the state fair, or we travel as though we are driving on a freeway. To borrow a phrase from Robert Frost, which one we choose will make “all the difference.” Bumper cars travel on a round or oval platform, and where the drivers go depends on how they respond to whatever bumps up against them. Now to the right. Oops! Now to the left. Watch out! Now spinning in circles. There is no set course, no beginning point, no ending point. There are just random movements responding to stimuli. On the other hand, drivers on a freeway get on the road at a certain point and do not get off the road until they arrive at their chosen exit. Sadly, most people select the bumper-car method of living and somehow are terribly surprised when the ride is over because they realize they have gone nowhere and accomplished nothing.
The wisdom writer of Proverbs had a more poetic way of expressing that same truth. Proverbs 7 and Proverbs 8 stand in stark contrast to one another as they describe two different ways to go through life. After writing twenty-seven verses in Proverbs 7 to paint a dark and terrifying picture of the false attractions and costly consequences of sin (personified by the female adulteress), the author then contrasts such a life with thirty-six verses in Proverbs 8 that are as bright and fulfilling as the former ones are dull and tragic. Rather than a life of sin, the writer proclaims the virtuous and healthy attributes of a life of righteousness (personified by Wisdom).
This text is used for the Lectionary Year C on May 15, 2016.
It has been said that often we are in the midst of a history-making, life-altering moment and do not realize the full impact of it until much later. Certainly, the Americans who were alive on November 22, 1963 instantly were aware that a horrific tragedy had occurred. However, they never could have dreamed that the assassin’s bullet that pierced the bright Texas morning would also shatter the foundation of trust and comfort on which American culture rested. The iconic photographs of an American President and First Lady hugging strangers and then riding in an unprotected vehicle with Secret Service agents nowhere near them would never be repeated. Rules changed, laws were passed, and Presidential limousines would henceforth be fortified to withstand bombs and equipped with everything from a self-sustaining oxygen supply to several units of blood matching the President’s blood type. The same lack of awareness of history-writing moments could be said of September 11, 2001. All Americans knew they were witnessing the unthinkable as they watched two airplanes obliterate two towers and almost 3,000 lives. However, they did not know that within hours armed soldiers would be patrolling every airport in America. They did not know that the airplane rides they casually used for business or family vacations would forever become tedious hours of scrutiny, security screening, and unending stress. In a matter of minutes—in 1963 and again in 2001 and many times before and since—life changed, and nothing would ever be the same. The same is true for individual lives. A child learns to walk or talk, a job is lost, a tumor is found, a promotion is awarded—for good and for bad, life changes in an instant, and nothing is ever the same again.