50 | 40 | 10 | Devotions Series: September 16, 2020 – Rev. Chris Matson
Devotions for the week of: September 16, 2020
1 Kings 17:7-16
But after a while the wadi dried up, because there was no rain in the land.
Then the word of the Lord came to him, saying, “Go now to Zarephath, which belongs to Sidon, and live there; for I have commanded a widow there to feed you.” So he set out and went to Zarephath. When he came to the gate of the town, a widow was there gathering sticks; he called to her and said, “Bring me a little water in a vessel, so that I may drink.” As she was going to bring it, he called to her and said, “Bring me a morsel of bread in your hand.” But she said, “As the Lord your God lives, I have nothing baked, only a handful of meal in a jar, and a little oil in a jug; I am now gathering a couple of sticks, so that I may go home and prepare it for myself and my son, that we may eat it, and die.” Elijah said to her, “Do not be afraid; go and do as you have said; but first make me a little cake of it and bring it to me, and afterwards make something for yourself and your son. For thus says the Lord the God of Israel: The jar of meal will not be emptied and the jug of oil will not fail until the day that the Lord sends rain on the earth.” She went and did as Elijah said, so that she as well as he and her household ate for many days. The jar of meal was not emptied, neither did the jug of oil fail, according to the word of the Lord that he spoke by Elijah.
To be fair, I am nowhere close to facing death. And yet, in many ways, death is as near to many as fire, pandemic, and white nationalism rage.
Death is close for Elijah in the story we just read. He is on the move because the wadi is dry and the rains aren’t coming. At first glance, the widow and her son aren’t faring any better. And yet, a significant difference exists between Elijah and the widow and her son. In the face of certain death, the widow and her son are resigned to eat the last of what they have and die. Elijah, however, has been called by the Lord to bring food, a life-giving gift, and turns the scarcity facing the widow and her son into abundance.
Time after time, in the face of death, God brings out life. As the people of God who are baptized into the death and resurrection of Christ, we renounce sin, death, and the devil, and we bring God’s redeeming word to all the world. Part of that mission is to persist when hope seems lost, to bring light to the darkness, and help one another hold tight to the promise of Easter even when – especially when – we find ourselves walking through the valley of the shadow of death.
Death is a powerful force, to be sure, and can take many forms. Fires, pandemics, and white nationalism are forms of death. As claimed and called followers of the God of life, we are called to work to overcome them. We confess the ways we have sinned against creation and repent by seeking to lower the emission of greenhouse gases that lead to deadly, destructive fires. We follow Jesus, the great healer, uniting against disease and death by taking precautions to stop the spread of the pandemic. Every human is created in the image of God and, therefore, worthy to be treated as such, so we renounce white nationalism.
Now is not the time to eat a morsel of bread and die. This is the time to bring about God’s life-giving word of life in our words and deeds. The prophet Elijah followed God’s call and saved lives. Imagine what we can do together as congregations, the South Dakota Synod, and as a nationwide Christian movement if we live out our baptismal call with the power of the Spirit to bring the gift of life now. As powerful as the forces of sin, death, and evil are, in Easter we know that the power of God’s love for us in Christ is more powerful still.
Rise Up, O Saints of God! ELW 669
Pastor Chris Matson
Peace Lutheran Church, Sioux Falls
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