By Pastor Wes Poole
My apologies, friends. I spent yesterday (Tuesday) glued to the TV and let time get away from me completely. Wonder why?? 😉
1 Kings 19:11-13
Then He said, “Go out, and stand on the mountain before the Lord.” And behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind tore into the mountains and broke the 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 still small voice. So it was, when Elijah heard it, that he wrapped his face in his mantle and went out and stood in the entrance of the cave. Suddenly a voice came to him, and said, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” NRSV
The story is told of Franklin Roosevelt, who often endured long receiving lines at the White House. He complained that no one really paid any attention to what was said. One day, during a reception, he decided to try an experiment. To each person who passed down the line and shook his hand, he murmured, “I murdered my grandmother this morning.” The guests responded with phrases like, “Marvelous! Keep up the good work. We are proud of you. God bless you, sir.” It was not till the end of the line, while greeting the ambassador from Bolivia, that his words were actually heard. Nonplussed, the ambassador leaned over and whispered, “I’m sure she had it coming.” (source unknown)
Political humor seemed appropriate somehow! In all seriousness, our nation has been stressed and anxious for most of this year. COVID was bad enough! Couple that with a vitriolic, contentious election cycle, and we’ve seen a perfect storm of chaos and cacophony that would have challenged even Elijah’s listening skills. As I write this, I am still following the returns. Do I have a preference? You bet I do! Will I share it? Nope. Not a chance. Not in a forum like this, and NEVER from the pulpit! It is not my place as a clergyperson to make such public, political pronouncements, and I take major issue with anyone in my profession who does so. One official though, commenting on the ongoing drama, cautioned the listeners that whichever side wins, both sides must learn to listen to what the other is trying to say. Amen to that! You know, it’s been said that listening is not simply waiting for your turn to reply. That is so profoundly true. Often, the voice of the one crying for help is a still, small one; overlooked or marginalized by society. That voice is truly the Voice of God, just as surely as the One Elijah heard so long ago. As followers of Jesus in these discordant times, we have a unique opportunity to model the caring and kindness that allows us not just to hear each others’ voices, but to listen with our hearts. That is exactly the life Jesus showed us how to live. Regardless of who ends up in the White House, our Christian vocation is always about showing others the Way Jesus taught us; kindness, love, generosity, and welcoming the stranger in our midst. These things will always be at the core of who we are as people of faith. “What are you doing here, [Christians]??” What indeed?! May we open our hearts to the “others” in our midst…and listen to them.
Let us pray…
God of mercy and truth, open our hearts to be able to listen to each other. Help us sow understanding in the midst of strife. Help us to be the calm amidst the storms of life; that we may more effectively show the Way your Son modeled for us so perfectly. For it is in his name that we pray. Amen.
Be well, be kind, be safe…and be calm.
Pastor Wes †