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Tragedy & Community

The narrative lectionary reading for this week is 1 Kings, chapter 17.  In this story, Elijah goes off into the wilderness.  God cares for his needs.  He drinks from a creek and is fed by ravens.  When a drought comes to the land, his creek dries up, and God tells him to go find a widow in a nearby land.  The widow was preparing her final meal before she and her son would lie down to die from starvation.   Elijah had the audacity to ask her to feed him first.  She figured she had nothing to lose, and so she fed Elijah, but then found she had enough to make another meal.  Her pantry always had enough for one more meal, for the duration of the famine/drought.

"Some time later the brook dried up because there had been no rain in the land.  Then the word of the Lord came to him: 'Go at once to Zarephath in the region of Sidon and stay there.  I have directed a widow there to supply you with food.'" - 1 Kings 17:7-9

Most often when focusing on this story we focus on the faith of the widow, but this week I want to focus on the command for community in crisis.  If God can command the ravens to deliver food, God could have certainly continued to feed Elijah in the wilderness, so why did God send Elijah to go to the widow?

God uses Elijah to provide for the widow, just as much if not more than the widow provided for Elijah.  The widow was making her final meal before laying down to die, but God provides food through the blessing of Elijah.  Later in chapter 17, when her son dies, God provides healing and resurrection through Elijah.  In the end, the scriptures tell us that the widow believed in everything Elijah taught because of God's provision.  Don't we experience the same provision through community?

When we regularly break bread with others, we find ourselves fed when we don't have enough.  When we find ourselves hurting, wounded, or sick with grief, is it not the community that helps us through?  I think that Elijah was sent there, not to meet his own needs, but to be in community with that widow.  In times of crisis, God drives us into community because we need each other.  

With COVID and the tension surrounding the upcoming elections, I feel we have a nation that is suffering and wounded.  We have a drought of another kind, and I think God is calling us towards community.  Don't you?

Lord, help us to find our community.  Help us to support one another.  Amen.


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