Elijah

Rev. Meg Barnhouse
November 19, 2017
First UU Church of Austin
4700 Grover Ave., Austin, TX 78756
austinuu.org

The job of preachers and prophets has often been described as “to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable.” Elijah’s story tracks his trials, tribulations and triumphs.


Sermon
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Ahab was king for 22 years, following a run of kings with shorter reigns, one for only 7 days. He was wicked, and to make it worse, he married Jezebel, who worshipped the god Baal, and he began to worship Baal as well, instead of the God of Israel.

Elijah shows up in the story telling the king that there won’t be any more rain in the land until the prophet says there will be. He went away then to hide in a ravine east of the Jordan River. God sent ravens to bring him bread and meat in the morning and again in the evening, and he drank from a nearby brook.

The brook soon dried up, as there had been no rain, and God said “go to this town and you’ll meet a widow. She will feed you.” He came to the town and saw a woman gathering sticks. He asked her for some water, and for some bread. She told him she only had a little flour and a little olive oil left. Her plan was to make a fire with the sticks, mix the oil and flour, make a bit of bread for her and for her son, and then they would die. Just make me a little loaf too, and then go do what you plan to do.He told her that her food would not run out until the rains came again. He came to live with the woman and her son, and they had enough to eat every day, since the flour and oil did not run out.

One day her son grew ill. He got worse and worse, and finally he stopped breathing, and she was angry with Elijah. Have you come to remind me of my sin and kill my son?” she cried. I don’t know what sin she was talking about. Elijah said “Give me your son,” and he took him up to the upper room where he was staying, laid him on the bed, and cried out to God, along the lines of “How could you let this tragedy befall this woman who took me in and fed me? He laid himself out on the boy three times, and said “Let his life return to him!” The boy began to breathe again. He carried the boy downstairs and said “Look, your son is alive!”

Three years of drought passed, and then the Lord told Elijah to go to Ahab and bring the rain again. He met Ahab on the road, and the king said “There you are, troubler of Israel.” The trouble is because of you and your evil ways, O King, said Elijah. This is an instructive moment, I think. When the Black Lives Matter protesters disrupt a rally or a highway, some people tsk at them and say they are making things worse for their cause. Disrupting is so rude. Disrupting is what prophets do, though. It’s the only tool of the powerless. The wrongs being done are the cause of the trouble, not the prophetic voices. No one likes a prophet, though. They are a lot of trouble. They demand change.


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