Reading: I Kings 17:8-24 (Drought has come upon the kingdom of Israel, and the prophet Elijah is suffering its effects as much as all the kingdom. God sends the prophet to ask a poor widow in a neighbouring country to feed him and give him what he needs to carry on. She also is so poor and needy that she has just enough for one last little meal to help her and her son die in peace, but in faith Elijah compels her to feed him, and in faith she does. As promised, her food does not run out, and soon after when her son soon falls deathly ill, the prophet restores him to life.)
As in other Elijah stories, the prophet is sent outside his home country and beyond the bounds of his own people to experience the grace of God, and to grow into his vocation and spiritual power.
Something amazing here about living and moving beyond the bounds of whatever religious establishment or community we belong to, to be given what we need for both our and our community's journey with God.
Everyone is poor and needy. The people and leadership of Israel, the prophet of God, the foreign widow and her son, and the people of her country are all suffering and seemingly without the resources they need to survive and move ahead.
Does that sound like where we and the world seem to be today -- everyone, both friend and foe, both people en masse and people wanting to make a difference -- in need and without resources to do the job?
Good things start to happen, though, when the prophet goes to a foreign widow in need, and asks her to feed him, promising that her charity and his need, her little food and his hunger will create the miracle of God's providence (and ultimately the occasion of God's saving, restoring power) that they need.
Am I as prepared as Elijah was, to admit my need and go to someone else in need -- someone who I might think it's my job to preach to, or to save, and instead ask them to help me with whatever little bit they have? (John Stott famously describes evangelism as one beggar telling another beggar where to find bread; am I willing and able to see myself as a beggar dependent on other beggars' resources?)
This Sunday is the 91st Anniversary of the founding of the United Church of Canada. The church was founded upon the call to be a prophetic, leading, healing presence in Canada and the world. Are we suffering drought and need at this point in our story? What would it mean for us as a church to confess our poverty, go to others as needy as ourselves, and ask them to help us with whatever little they may have? To whom does God lead us, to be strangely fed?
And, yes, so far this is mainly ideas and questions. I trust as the week goes on, I will find my way into my own experiences of drought, beggary and being graciously and surprisingly fed at the hands of other beggars -- as well as the things that make me hold back from following that holy path.