1 Kings 19:1-15a/ Galatians 3:23-29/ Luke 8:26-39
Grounded and Rooted in God’s Love
Theological School Friends
I had three best friends in theological school. We were together most of the time: at school and after school. We went to supper together, shopping together, and just sat together while some did their reading and some watched TV. Our bond with each other was not solely in the activities we did together; it was also in the silence when we were sitting together and not doing anything with each other.
Fellowship in Silence
“Communion” as in fellowship happens by spending a lot of time together, but not necessarily while we do activities together. Sitting together in silence can create bond and growing love for each other.
It is believed that Mozart said, “The music is not in the notes, but in the silence between.” It is also true in our communication, both oral and written. We find meanings in reading between the lines as much as in the written words. We find meanings in what is not said as much as in what is said out loud.
Elijah Meets God in Silence
Our Prophet Elijah experiences something similar in First Kings chapter 19. Elijah is on the run for his life because Queen Jezebel wants him dead for killing her prophets. In the previous chapter, Elijah competed with the priests of Baal to see whose God is true. Spoiler alert: Elijah’s God won, and the priests of Baal were killed.
But now Elijah is fearing for his life so much that he wants God to take his life, which is weird if you think about it. But I guess, if he has to die, at least he doesn’t want to die at the hands of his enemy. He sleeps, is fed by God’s angel, and hears God say that God will pass him by.
Strong wind passed by but God was not there. Earthquake came but God was not there. Fire came but God was not there. Then after the fire, Elijah hears God’s still small voice.
It is easy to think that God speaks through big cosmic events such as storm, earthquake, and fire, but what we really need to pay attention to is God’s still small voice. This is how God meets us and communicates with us. We can’t hear God’s voice if we are surrounded by noise, both literal and metaphorical noise.
Liberating Spirit of God
What we read in Galatians is the result of having an intimate relationship with God if the Holy Spirit is in us. We have a relationship with God through Christ. Christ brings us closer to God, helps us to understand God better and to resemble Christ.
With the Holy Spirit daily guiding us, our Christian lifestyle does not depend on obeying the Law, the commandments we find in the Bible. Of course, it doesn’t mean it’s okay to ignore all biblical teachings. What it means is that we don’t have to be enslaved by the Law like a lot of religious teachers in Jesus’ time.
The Holy Spirit frees us from the law to lead a lifestyle of love based on God’s compassion and justice. When the Holy Spirit guides us, we live out God’s love without the constraint of the commandments.
Grounded In God’s Love
The Holy Spirit unites us different people as one, helps us to fight our narrowminded prejudices, challenges us to do more good deeds, and to widen our circle to include all God’s people.
In Christ, there is no longer Jew or Greek, male or female, white or black, gay or straight, gendered or gender fluid people, abled or disabled, etc. Changing our lives with the Holy Spirit in us grounds us in God’s love, which was the theme of last weekend’s regional council AGM.
When we are grounded and rooted in God’s love, we welcome all God’s people. We have done this by becoming an affirming regional council to welcome everyone regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity.
Grounded in God’s love helps us to love ourselves the way God created us. God’s love doesn’t let us think that we are not precious or worthy of love and grace. Grounded in love pushes us to care about the suffering of others and to act. When the human suffering is caused by an unjust system, calling out the social evil is a part of being grounded in God’s love. Taking the side of the marginalized of the society is being grounded and rooted in God’s love.
Healing the Demon-possessed Man
We heard a gospel story in which Jesus heals a demon-possessed man. Healing the sick and exorcising evil spirits from people, which Jesus did a lot, were ways of uplifting the oppressed people of his society.
We know that there is a correlation between marginalization and mental health, as well as physical health. Marginalized and suffering people generally need more healing. Jesus sacrificed the village pigs to save the possessed man to the villagers’ dismay. I don’t like the idea of killing animals but the point we can take away from this story is how a person is considered precious and worthy of God’s love, even this dirty, poor, and demon-possessed person who is being a nuisance to everyone.
Relationship with God
Let us have a close relationship with God and listen to God’s still small voice in silence. Let us draw God’s love and power through the Holy Spirit so that we may be grounded and rooted in God’s love, and so that we may live as the representatives of God in our lives. Let us have the Spirit of God take root in us so that we may be God’s channel of peace, love, and justice in our unjust world.