Dear siblings in Christ,
So how DO you know the voice you are hearing is from God? What is it like for you to be led by the Holy Spirit? Those questions might feel huge or even a bit frightening, but I write to assure you there is something in you that can answer them. Your answer will be different than mine, and both of us will differ from yet another person. But in this season of Pentecost, let me be one among the voices that stand up and say you are able.
This Sunday’s reading from the Hebrew scriptures is a wonderful story of one of God’s beloveds, Elijah, who had just accomplished something amazing and powerful. By God’s power working through him, Elijah has called fire down from the heavens, defeated the prophets of Baal in a contest, and then killed them all. In the passage we will hear Sunday, King Ahab and Queen Jezebel are enraged by this and Jezebel is out for Elijah’s life. Elijah is scared. And he’s exhausted. God provides for him and this gives Elijah enough strength and will to go to Mt Horeb to meet God. Elijah needs help, protection, and direction. He needs to know that it is God who leads him.
“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…” And in that silence Elijah hears.
It’s kind of atypical of God. Usually we read stories of God in the fiery pillar, flashing lightning, that sort of thing. There have been times in my life when I really, REALLY wanted to find God in
equivalently “obvious” places, when I wanted something so very clear and straightforward that I would know for sure it was God I heard. Yet nearly always I hear God speak in the still small voice of surprise, of something that suddenly clicks and is then paradoxically so obvious I wonder how I didn’t see it sooner. Into the sheer silence, devoid of the bombast I am seeking, God’s leadership comes with a solidity and rightness.
What about you? Over the next weeks I invite you to consider sharing in a reflection how it is that you hear God’s voice. We thrive best hearing one another’s’ stories, so I hope you will consider enriching us all with yours.
I am away from you this week attending a retreat/conference created by the national Church called CREDO. CREDO helps clergy examine their health, replenish their spirit, and rediscover the passion that first animated their call to ministry. We will examine ways to support our well-being, our health, and our ministry. All clergy are strongly encouraged to go, usually twice. I’ve not been and I am curious. If the pre-conference materials are an indication, much of what we will do is listen for the voice and direction from God. In this historic time, I’m grateful to have the opportunity to sit deeply with so many of the questions I have and wait in sheer silence (and good peer conversations as well…).
Worship on Sunday morning is going to be great. Morning Prayer will be led by a team of several of us, and the sermon will be by Brian McLaren. Remember it starts at 9:30. And know I will be eager to come back to you and hear what God is doing among us.
With love and in faith,