Sermon for 12th August 2018 by Rev Ellie Goldsmith

SERMON for Ladock 12.8.18

1 Kings 19:4 – 8          Psalm 34:1- 8              Ephesians 4: 25 – 5:2

John 6:35, 41 -51

 

Elijah was one of the major figures of the Old Testament.

During his time, Ahab was King in Israel between 874 and 854 BC; he was one of the 33 kings who ruled the northern kingdom of Israel, all recorded as doing ‘evil’.  Ahab was notorious for building a temple to the nature god Baal.  And he married princess Jezebel, of legendary wickedness.

So Ahab kept Elijah busy; he had to convey God’s messages to stay Ahab’s disastrous rule.

 

Elijah was bold – he had to be – and he was involved in some miraculous events for his own preservation and as warnings to the King and God’s people.

You will remember the contest on Mount Carmel between the prophets of Baal and Elijah and God’s people. 

Both sides were invited to pray for rain, after 3 years of drought.  And Elijah’s prayer is victorious.  This infuriates Jezebel in particular, and this is where the story from the Book of Kings begins today:  she vows to take Elijah’s life.

 

If you were writing the next part of the story, I wonder what you would say Elijah did  …

After such a display of God’s power on Mount Carmel, we are probably amazed to read that Elijah was afraid, and ran for his life!

He begs God to take his life; in fact he sleeps, and when he wakes there is food and water waiting for him.

You don’t have to be a psychologist or a psychiatrist to work out that Elijah was exhausted and depressed – even suicidal. He was totally drained and terrified.

You might have expected a stern rebuke from God to Elijah:  Pull your socks up!  What are you messing around at?  There’s more to do!  Let’s confront Jezebel!

 

We don’t actually hear the end of God’s encounter with Elijah this week – we will next, when it includes the words from the Aria, ‘Be still’, that we heard so beautifully sung last Sunday.

But today we read that Elijah ate and rested, and then he was able to continue his journey in a quite remarkable way, traveling for 40 days and 40 nights.  But that’s another story.

 

Interestingly, at this point in writing this sermon, I felt a headache coming on, and realised it was way past lunchtime!  I stopped, went and made a sandwich and took it outside, sat in the garden swing and enjoyed the sunshine and a rest!  And then Chris brought me a cup of tea!

 

I have to admit to feeling a little wearied by the extra work and responsibility of the Transition period.  The thoughts come, as they did to Elijah, ‘I’m no better than anyone else;

I should keep going’.

But how wise and compassionate of God to restore Elijah’s human weariness, through sleep and food, and to get him going again with a renewed perspective on God and his purposes.  A lesson to learn indeed!

 

There is surely a link here with Jesus’ teaching after he had fed the 5000 people with loaves and fish.

I think there are 2 things to take to heart:  First, we have to learn to feed on Jesus, daily, the Bread of life – always going back to him as our staple diet – we can’t run on empty. 

As we noticed last week, doing God’s work is ultimately believing in his plan of salvation through Jesus Christ, trusting our lives to him now and for all eternity. 

And then co-operating with him using the gifts he gives, so that others can come to him, as he draws them.

And this works best when we are intentional about the beautiful lifestyle we heard about from the Ephesians reading.

 

And second, there is something here about our identity - who we really are.  I think Elijah had lost sight of this, but Jesus never did.  He always knew and was motivated by the fact that he had come from heaven:  he was God’s son. 

 

Yes, he had earthly parents and siblings, who must surely have influenced and shaped him; but he was not determined by them.  They were trumped by his heavenly Father.  This is the parent we are to imitate:  a deliberate choosing to follow his example - an intentional building on the genes from our new birth, listening and learning from him.

Sometimes it’s hard to shake off our up-bringing, especially the weaknesses we may have inherited, or the expectations placed upon us.  But being children of God, we have a new identity – not determined by the past, but rather shaped by our glorious future as we grow up into the likeness of Jesus and inherit eternal life with him. 

 

Being secure in who we are relies on our view of God: 

if we see God as a hard task-master, we shall get to the same point as Elijah. 

If we see God’s loving kindness and provision for both our souls and bodies, we will know the plans he has for us are good Jeremiah 29:11 ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

 

And we will want to let others know this too – being fed and sustained in what he calls us to do by the Bread from heaven, able to travel at his pace, to the end of our journey.

 

What might this mean for you this week?

More rest?

More listening and learning?  More prayer and getting to grips with the Bible?

More contemplation on God?

More awareness of his plan for you?

 

Let our Lord Jesus draw you closer to himself this week in whatever way you sense he is calling you.

 

 

 


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