Today’s Scriptures: Lectionary selections from the Revised Common Lectionary Year C
1 Kings 19:1-15
In a lifetime of working with others I have seen that some characteristics of human nature never change: we have a short attention span and we anticipate everything into a catastrophe. The prophets in Kings, Isaiah, and the people in Luke all encounter threatening situations and react as people do flee and/or whine. Despite the failings of human nature, God remains steady and his presence through the encounters shows us more about his care for us.
Elijah had just completed his miracle of the wet altar when he found out that Jezebel declared war on him for defeating her priests and “killing them with the sword.” The passage showed the power of a woman scorned and the power of an oath. By declaring Elijah’s fate with the oath, she was bound to carry it out. Elijah laced up his sandals and headed for foreign lands.
Just like Elijah, the prophet in Isaiah declared that the people do not want his message. He despaired at the situation in the same way Elijah did when the Lord’s messenger and the Lord came by. Elijah went from a manifest victory of the Lord’s power to hopeless despair within days. They catastrophized the situation by being certain the worst that could happen would happen. God responded to both, “Do your job and everything will be fine.”
Consistently when Jesus came across a demon, the being from the spirit world recognized Jesus identity, power, and consequences for the contact. In the case of Legion, after the thousands of spirits fled into a heard of swine and free the man, the people in the area partially got it – they recognized Jesus’s power, but they did not see the opportunity in it. Instead they responded in fear and asked Jesus to leave. The spirits knew wholly who Jesus was while the people only understood partially and the responses showed the level of understanding. Jesus’s response to the man who desired to go with him was much like that of God to the prophets, “Stay here, spread the word, and all will be fine.”
Regardless of the human nature response in each of the situation, the God presence in each passage remained the same: “Here is my way. Stay on the course I have given you and all will be fine.” That is the comfort we take in our relationship with the Lord. It does not matter how frantic we become, God’s stability and calm provides a way through the panic. Yes, the British were on to something: Keep calm and carry on – and all will be fine.
Revised Common Lectionary Daily Readings, copyright © 2005 Consultation on Common Texts. www.commontexts.org