The Lord said, “Go out and stand at the mountain before the Lord. The Lord is passing by.” A very strong wind tore through the mountains and broke apart the stones before the Lord. But the Lord wasn’t in the wind. After the wind, there was an earthquake. But the Lord wasn’t in the earthquake. After the earthquake, there was a fire. But the Lord wasn’t in the fire. After the fire, there was a sound. Thin. Quiet. When Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his cloak. He went out and stood at the cave’s entrance. A voice came to him and said, “Why are you here, Elijah?” –1 Kings 19:11-13
Imagine with me, if you will, two different Christians. One is a hermit. He lives in a cave in the desert. He spends nearly all of his time reading the bible and in meditation and prayer. Once a week, for an hour, he receives visitors at the mouth of his cave. Pilgrims come to ask him questions and to receive a prayer or blessing from him.
The other is a social worker. She gave up her lucrative job in the tech industry to work with the homeless in the inner city. She operates a center that coordinates services from all over the area, so that anyone in need can come to one location and find the best help available. She works individually with each client and tries to make sure that they are helped promptly and treated with dignity. She spends nearly every waking minute attending to the needs of others.
So which one is the authentic Christian? Which one is living the call of Jesus Christ?
And the answer probably is that they both are. We are called both to contemplation and to mission. In some cases, a person might be called almost exclusively to one of the other, as in the examples above. For most of us, though, we can’t effectively live out our faith without attending to both the quiet contemplation and to active service.
The story about Elijah is an example. He has gone up to the mountain at Horeb because he has given up on being a prophet. He has been doing God’s work, and it has brought him nothing but trouble. He is convinced that he is the last of God’s prophets and that he will soon be killed, putting an end to the worship of God on Earth. So, he has gone up to the mountain to wait for death. He is done.
But in the stillness, God appears to him. It’s not in any of the loud and calamitous signs: the wind or the earthquake or the fire. God’s voice comes only in the quiet, only in what the KJV calls the still small voice. If Elijah weren’t in quiet contemplation, he couldn’t hear the voice.
But the voice he hears in silence calls him to action. “Why are you here, Elijah?” That is, why are you here by yourself on a mountain and not out doing the work of a prophet? The voice calls him back out to his vocation, back out to his mission.
And we also need to find that balance between contemplation and action. If we never take the time to be in meditation and in prayer, then we are unlikely to hear the voice of God over the cacophony of our busy-ness. But if our faith is confined to a sanctuary or bounded between the covers of a bible, then we are not really living the faith, only understanding it. We need both—both listening and doing—in order to live our Christian faith. We need both in order to be the Church.
Your servant in Christ,
++ Pastor David King’s Installation is this Sunday at 2:00pm. Come and welcome Pastor David and his family. Steve Ross and Susan Kitner will be attending on this special day. An ice cream social will follow the service.
++ Special Giving-School Supplies
On August 31st, Faith in Action will be collecting school supplies for Parkdale Elementary School as our 5th Sunday special giving. On August 17th, during both worship services, you will have an opportunity to commit to purchasing a specific item. This will help ensure that we get some of everything which is needed. If you will not be at worship on August 17th, please feel free to purchase anything from the list below, or place a donation in the offering plate designated “School Supplies”. There will be a collection basket in the narthex of the church.
child safety scissors
Ticonderoga #2 pencils
boxes of tissues
rulers with both metric and US measurements
spiral notebooks (wide rule)
Band-aids (latex free)
plastic folders with pockets
++ August 18-20-22 are the days that Asbury Our Redeemer serve at FISH.
The hours are 3:30-5pm on Monday, 3:30-5:30 on Wednesday, and 3:30-5pm on Friday. If you would like to volunteer, any or all days, or have questions, please contact Kathy Terry at firstname.lastname@example.org.
++ Yard sale is this Saturday from 8am to 1pm. Friday is the last day to bring items for the sale. You may drop off things by the front door of the church or between 9 and 11am Thurs and Fri. Thank you everyone who has brought items so far!
++ WELCA bible study will be Tues Aug 26th from 2-4pm.