Now there was a great wind, so strong that it was splitting mountains and breaking rocks in pieces before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake; and after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire; and after the fire a sound of sheer silence. – 1 Kings 19:11–12
The Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. – 2 Corinthians 3:17
Two-year reading texts: Psalm 105:23–36; Judges 19; Luke 22:39–51
Behind many of today's texts there are stories of violence and conflict and upheaval. The Bible doesn't shy away from telling the true tale of all the ways we can twist ourselves around and cause pain and suffering to each other. But the Bible also offers a way through these times, and an attitude and orientation that can help in the future. The 1 Kings verses and the 2 Corinthians verse offer a glimpse of silence, of freedom, of listening carefully and being aware of the presence of the Lord. The word "Spirit" (in Greek and Hebrew and English, a word that connects with breath and wind and life) speaks to how God can be present anywhere, at any time, guiding us forward to life.
This morning, I sat reflecting on the violent battles and struggles that surface in all five of today's texts. I looked out the window, and my attention was drawn to individual leaves of the oak tree in our front yard, and the activity of the sparrows in ones and twos and threes that belong to the flock that nests in the trees around us. In writing the history of our time, there will also be stories of violence and conflict and upheaval. This week's news is full of blustering among nations and political candidates, refugees from Syria and Latin America, the struggles over a pipeline proposed through Sioux tribal lands. The house I live in is built on land that has changed hands over the centuries through war and treachery. But on that land is the tree whose leaves daily soak up the sunlight for energy, and the birds who find their daily food, and some humans who can rely on the Spirit of the Lord for direction and sustenance.
May we see with clear eyes the realities of violence and injustice and suffering all around us. And may we find freedom and new life in God's Spirit in every time, being moved to keep life coming in every situation, with hope for a future that includes the healing of all people.