Wednesday, November 18, 2020

God Sightings - Part 3

Sometimes ordinary words just won’t do, will they? Ordinary words can’t capture immense fear, the beauty of a magnificent sunset, or the love for a child. Ordinary words could not capture the experience of Isaiah when he received his call to be a prophet for Yahweh.

The time is roughly 742 BC, the year that King Uzziah died. Uzziah had reigned in Judah, the southern kingdom, for more than 40 years. And by most standards, he had been quite successful. He had repaired the defenses of Jerusalem, reorganized the army, and secured many trade routes running through Judah. He was a strong king, but he died, as the book of Chronicles tells us, because he was punished by God for his proud power. It was in this same year, when the country was mourning his death and wondering what the future would bring, that Isaiah saw his vision. Found in the first part of today’s reading in Isaiah, chapter 6.

In the year of King Uzziah’s death, I saw the Lord sitting on a high and exalted throne, the edges of his robe filling the temple. Winged creatures were stationed around him. Each had six wings: with two they veiled their faces, with two their feet, and with two they flew about. They shouted to each other, saying:

“Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of heavenly forces!
All the earth is filled with God’s glory!”

The doorframe shook at the sound of their shouting, and the house was filled with smoke.

I said, “Mourn for me; I’m ruined! I’m a man with unclean lips, and I live among a people with unclean lips. Yet I’ve seen the king, the Lord of heavenly forces!”

Then one of the winged creatures flew to me, holding a glowing coal that he had taken from the altar with tongs. He touched my mouth and said, “See, this has touched your lips. Your guilt has departed, and your sin is removed.”

Then I heard the Lord’s voice saying, “Whom should I send, and who will go for us?”

I said, “Here I am; send me.” --Isaiah 6:1-8 (CEB)

The place is the temple. We aren’t surprised by this - we expect things like this to happen in the temple - this magnificent building. We might not expect, perhaps, to see visions of thrones or winged seraphs - those fiery beings who sing about the holiness and the glory of God. We might not expect to experience the shaking of the temple’s thresholds or smoke rising to the height of this extraordinary building. These are not ordinary words that describe ordinary things. But ordinary words often cannot be used to describe one’s encounter with God.

Isaiah is standing in the temple, when he sees the vision of Yahweh sitting on a throne. Yahweh is high and lift up. The seraphs are singing to each other words that we have often sung: “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord…” The building shakes. The smoke rises. Then, Isaiah speaks.

It’s not a response to God’s call that we hear, for God has not yet called Isaiah. Instead, his first words come in response to the remarkable vision he has experienced. So overwhelming that his first words are words of despair. “Mourn for me!” he says. In contrast to the greatness that he has witnessed, Isaiah feels small. In contrast to the glory and holiness he has experienced, he feels unworthy. That he has no place in the presence of One who is as awe-some as this.

This sense of fear and awe is not new to the Israelites. Throughout the Hebrew scriptures, they have asked the question, “Can one see Yahweh and live?” Yet, Isaiah seems less preoccupied with death here as he is with how he has lived life. He has unclean lips. He is part of a community with unclean lips.

It’s the seraph who first responds to Isaiah’s outburst. Immediately, it flies to Isaiah holding a live coal and touches his lips. Isaiah’s lips are not burned. Instead, his confession is acknowledged, his uncleanliness, his unworthiness is seared away. His guilt departs and his sin is blotted out. 

Perhaps you, too, have experienced something similar to Isaiah, when something you have done wrong, a mistake or a word you have said that has caused harm to someone, has been forgiven and reconciliation has happened. There is that life-giving moment when we exhale, recognizing that, despite our past, we can indeed begin anew.

It is then, after Isaiah has had this life-giving experience that he hears the voice of Yahweh. Yet, the words are not directed only to Isaiah - they seem to be directed to the community, to each and everyone who might we willing to hear them. “Whom shall I send, who will go for us?” Were there others there who might have come forth to answer? Perhaps. But Isaiah has been prepared and made ready for his mission, even as it has yet to be defined. 

Without even knowing what God is calling him to, Isaiah responds, “Hineni. Here I am. Send me!”

What is it that happens between these two outbursts of Isaiah? He first cries out, “Mourn for me!” Then, later his cry is “I’m here. Send me!” One can only wonder if what happens in between is this remarkable transformation that we feel when we have truly experienced grace. Amazing grace.

Now, as your pastor and as a storyteller, it would be my choice, my easy choice, to end the story here. It is important for us to hear the stories of these courageous people - these men and women in scripture and in the history of the church who have, in their own lives, said, “Hineni. Here I am.”

But to be true to the story of Isaiah, we must continue on in chapter 6, beginning with verse 9.

God said, “Go and say to this people:

Listen intently, but don’t understand;
    look carefully, but don’t comprehend.
Make the minds of this people dull.
    Make their ears deaf and their eyes blind,
    so they can’t see with their eyes
    or hear with their ears,
    or understand with their minds,
    and turn, and be healed.”

I said, “How long, Lord?”

And God said, “Until cities lie ruined with no one living in them, until there are houses without people and the land is left devastated.” The Lord will send the people far away, and the land will be completely abandoned. Even if one-tenth remain there, they will be burned again, like a terebinth or an oak, which when it is cut down leaves a stump. Its stump is a holy seed. --Isaiah 6:9-13 (CEB)

To be true to Isaiah’s story, we must hear the overwhelming challenge that God presents to him. We hear Isaiah’s sadness as he hears the words the Lord speaks. “Make the minds of this people dull. Make their ears deaf and their eyes blind, so they can’t see or hear or understand and turn and be healed.”

Isaiah has been called to deliver a word that will lead people not toward life, but toward death. The words given to him to speak to the community were harsh words, words of confrontation about the emptiness and desolation of a people and a land that Yahweh deeply loved. To be true to the story of Isaiah we cannot end with the words, “Hineni. Here I am, send me!” We must hear the last words of Isaiah as he stands there in his frailty, completely forgiven, when he asks, “How long, Lord? 

Recently, I listened to one of Leonard Cohen’s last interviews where he spoke about one of the last songs he wrote, entitled, “You Want It Darker.”  Throughout the chorus of this song, we hear the very word that Isaiah spoke in response to God’s call. Hineni. Hineni. Here I am. 

When asked about this song, Cohen commented that we are all motivated by deep impulses to serve, even though we may never fully identify that which we are being called to serve. That this is part of our nature to offer ourselves at the moment, at the critical moment, when the emergency becomes clear. 

Perhaps this is our hineni moment. Perhaps God is calling us into a mission for which we do not know the ending, just like Isaiah. Who didn’t know the ending either, but knew that this was the moment. The emergency to which he was being called. And who trusted that God would somehow bring new life from the stump. The holy seed mentioned in the very last verse of this chapter. The stump of Jesse. From which would come an ancestral branch. A King. Upon whom the spirit of the Lord would rest. And from whom would come life and light for all people. 

As we wait in this time of transition and upheaval. As we bear witness once again to hospitals overflowing and increasing numbers of infected and dying - when all we want to do is to throw off our masks, emerge from our cocoons and hug our friends and loved ones - is it possible that, like Isaiah’s, this is our hineni moment? When we are being called into selfless service in this time of emergency? Not knowing how long or what is to come, but trusting that out of the stump, out of the holy seed, will come new life and new purpose for us as the remnant people of God?

How will you respond?

Preached November 15, 2020, online at Grace & Glory Lutheran Church, Goshen, KY
24th Sunday after Pentecost
Readings: Isaiah 6, 1-13; Luke 5:8-10

Monday, November 9, 2020

God Sightings: Jonah

Our story today is about Jonah. Jonah was a prophet of God to the people of the northern kingdom of Israel. 

Let’s just say that Jonah is not the best prophet. 

The only other place in scripture where we meet him is in 2nd Kings under the reign of Jeroboam II, one of the worst kings in the history of Israel. Here, Jonah prophecies in Jeroboam’s favor, promising that he will win a battle against the Assyrians and regain all this territory on Israel’s northern border. This is contradicted by God through the Prophet Amos, who challenges Jonah's prophecy and promises that Jeroboam will be overthrown by God because he is such a horrible king.

Let’s just say that Jonah is not the best prophet.

As today’s story opens, God is calling Jonah to go into the heart of Assyria, Israel’s enemies to the north. And to go to Nineveh, the capital of Assyria, to call the people there to repentance.

We read in Jonah, chapter 1.

The Lord’s word came to Jonah, Amittai’s son: “Get up and go to Nineveh, that great city, and cry out against it, for their evil has come to my attention.”

So Jonah got up—to flee to Tarshish from the Lord! 

He went down to Joppa and found a ship headed for Tarshish. He paid the fare and went aboard to go with them to Tarshish, away from the Lord.

But the Lord hurled a great wind upon the sea, so that there was a great storm on the sea; the ship looked like it might be broken to pieces. The sailors were terrified, and each one cried out to his god. 

They hurled the cargo that was in the ship into the sea to make it lighter.

Now Jonah had gone down into the hold of the vessel to lie down and was deep in sleep. The ship’s officer came and said to him, “How can you possibly be sleeping so deeply? Get up! Call on your god! Perhaps the god will give some thought to us so that we won’t perish.”

Meanwhile, the sailors said to each other, “Come on, let’s cast lots so that we might learn who is to blame for this evil that’s happening to us.” They cast lots, and the lot fell on Jonah. So they said to him, “Tell us, since you’re the cause of this evil happening to us: What do you do and where are you from? What’s your country and of what people are you?”

He said to them, “I’m a Hebrew. I worship the Lord, the God of heaven—who made the sea and the dry land.”

Then the men were terrified and said to him, “What have you done?” (The men knew that Jonah was fleeing from the Lord, because he had told them.)

They said to him, “What will we do about you so that the sea will become calm around us?” (The sea was continuing to rage.)

He said to them, “Pick me up and hurl me into the sea! Then the sea will become calm around you. I know it’s my fault that this great storm has come upon you.”

The men rowed to reach dry land, but they couldn’t manage it because the sea continued to rage against them. So they called on the Lord, saying, “Please, Lord, don’t let us perish on account of this man’s life, and don’t blame us for innocent blood! You are the Lord: whatever you want, you can do.”

Then they picked up Jonah and hurled him into the sea, and the sea ceased its raging. The men worshipped the Lord with a profound reverence; they offered a sacrifice to the Lord and made solemn promises.

Meanwhile, the Lord provided a great fish to swallow Jonah. Jonah was in the belly of the fish for three days and three nights. --Jonah 1:1-17 (CEB)

What the heck was Jonah thinking? That he could get away from God? We’ve talked before about the relentlessness of God. When God has a plan, there is no getting away, no escaping from God. 

Here, God has a plan. A plan of salvation. A plan to save the people - or at least to attempt to save - the people of Nineveh. That great capital of Assyria. Israel’s most hated enemy to the north. 

What the heck was Jonah thinking? 

My guess is that, in part, he was terrified of going into Assyria and of “calling out” the people of Nineveh. Telling these evil pagans to repent of their sins. 

The irony of this first chapter of Jonah is that, as Jonah is attempting to escape God’s call to convert the pagan people of Nineveh, Jonah ends up converting the pagan sailors. By the end of this chapter, they are worshipping God for what they have seen. Their God sighting has changed them.

And Jonah? The chapter has ended with him in the belly of a great fish. With time to think. By the end of the second chapter, Jonah has repented. Sort of. 

In the closing lines of his prayer of repentance at the end of chapter 2, Jonah prays, “When my endurance was weakening, I remembered the LORD, and my prayer came to you, to your holy temple. Those deceived by worthless things lose their chance for mercy. But me, I will offer a sacrifice to you with a voice of thanks.”

“Those deceived by worthless things lose their chance for mercy.” Remember these words. As we continue in chapter 3.

Then the Lord spoke to the fish, and it vomited Jonah onto the dry land.

The Lord’s word came to Jonah a second time: “Get up and go to Nineveh, that great city, and declare against it the proclamation that I am commanding you.” And Jonah got up and went to Nineveh, according to the Lord’s word. 

(Now Nineveh was indeed an enormous city, a three days’ walk across.)
Jonah started into the city, walking one day, and he cried out, “Just forty days more and Nineveh will be overthrown!” And the people of Nineveh believed God. They proclaimed a fast and put on mourning clothes, from the greatest of them to the least significant.

When word of it reached the king of Nineveh, he got up from his throne, stripped himself of his robe, covered himself with mourning clothes, and sat in ashes. Then he announced, “In Nineveh, by decree of the king and his officials: Neither human nor animal, cattle nor flock, will taste anything! No grazing and no drinking water! Let humans and animals alike put on mourning clothes, and let them call upon God forcefully! And let all persons stop their evil behavior and the violence that’s under their control!” He thought, Who knows? God may see this and turn from his wrath, so that we might not perish.

God saw what they were doing—that they had ceased their evil behavior. So God stopped planning to destroy them, and he didn’t do it. --Jonah 3:1-10 (CEB)

One day. One day is all it took for Nineveh to repent. Jonah wasn’t even able to finish his walk across the city - a three-day walk - before Nineveh repented. But it wasn’t just the people of Nineveh who repented. Their king, on hearing the word of Jonah’s prophecy, put on mourning clothes and sat in ashes - a dramatic sign of his own repentance. And leadership. Then, he issued a decree that, not only would the people repent, the animals would, too! The entire city and everything and everyone in it. This wayward prophet, this not-so-great man of God has, once again, almost unintentionally, converted an entire pagan city.

Our reading continues in chapter 4.

But Jonah thought this was utterly wrong, and he became angry. He prayed to the Lord, “Come on, Lord! Wasn’t this precisely my point when I was back in my own land? This is why I fled to Tarshish earlier! I know that you are a merciful and compassionate God, very patient, full of faithful love, and willing not to destroy. At this point, Lord, you may as well take my life from me, because it would be better for me to die than to live.”

The Lord responded, “Is your anger a good thing?”

But Jonah went out from the city and sat down east of the city. There he made himself a hut and sat under it, in the shade, to see what would happen to the city.

Then the Lord God provided a shrub, and it grew up over Jonah, providing shade for his head and saving him from his misery. Jonah was very happy about the shrub. But God provided a worm the next day at dawn, and it attacked the shrub so that it died. Then as the sun rose God provided a dry east wind, and the sun beat down on Jonah’s head so that he became faint. 

He begged that he might die, saying, “It’s better for me to die than to live.”

God said to Jonah, “Is your anger about the shrub a good thing?”

Jonah said, “Yes, my anger is good—even to the point of death!”

But the Lord said, “You ‘pitied’ the shrub, for which you didn’t work and which you didn’t raise; it grew in a night and perished in a night. Yet for my part, can’t I pity Nineveh, that great city, in which there are more than one hundred twenty thousand people who can’t tell their right hand from their left, and also many animals?” --Jonah 4:1-11 (CEB)

“Those deceived by worthless things lose their chance for mercy.” Remember those words? 

Although it’s hard to tell exactly from our text, it would seem that Jonah’s anger is less about the shriveled shrub and more about God’s mercy on the pagan people of Nineveh. 

“Those deceived by worthless things lose their chance for mercy.” That’s what Jonah prayed, wasn’t it? 

Don’t we pray this, too? That those people who follow other gods, who don’t think the way we do, who don’t vote the way we do, who “follow worthless things” lose their chance for mercy? 

We, in this country, have just gone through an election. Elections are, by their very nature, divisive. This one even more so. In this election period, as we, myself included, have demonized those who have different opinions than we, demeaned those who have supported a different candidate than ours, disparaged those whom we have identified as followers of "worthless things" (or candidates), aren’t we a little like Jonah? Self-righteous? Sanctimonious? Holier than thou?

Perhaps we need a leader to call our whole nation to repentance. 

We have a such a leader who calls us to repentance. Who sees the bigger picture and has a broader plan. Who has created all people in his own image. And who acts compassionately and with great patience that all people (and not just us) might receive redemption.

We have such a leader in God, whose knowledge is so far beyond us and whose acts of love extend way beyond our own imagination. Who has redeemed us through God’s very own Son, Jesus Christ.

May we follow our leader as the people of Nineveh followed theirs. May we repent of our thinking, like Jonah’s, that others are beyond God’s redemptive powers. And may we, as the church, freed in Christ, find a way to emulate the same acts of love and mercy in our deeply divided world.

May God grant this, for Jesus’ sake. Amen.

Preached Sunday, November 8, 2020, online at Grace & Glory Lutheran Church, Goshen, KY.
Pentecost 24
Readings: Jonah 1:1-17, 3:1-10, 4:1-11; Luke 18:13

Sunday, November 1, 2020

God Sightings: Elijah and the Widow

As we often do in beginning our story today, we need to catch up on the action in-between - from last Sunday's story to today's. 

We heard, last week, about King David. About his desire to build God a house. And how, instead, God abundantly poured out more grace upon David, with a promise that his house - his ancestral line - would live forever and ever. Even with his mistakes, David was deeply loved by God. He was a humble warrior, a servant, and a king. One could say that David has a golden heart. 

King Solomon - David’s son, succeeded him on the throne. Solomon’s reign began well as he asked God for a discerning heart, so that he might have the wisdom and understanding to govern God’s people with fairness. Under Solomon, Israel experienced a “Golden Age” of peace and prosperity. 

But, this did not last. One might say that Solomon externalized the gold. He forgot that the gold that God desires for God’s people is the golden shrine of a surrendered heart - not the gold shine of a big building. Solomon violated the rules for kings that had been established in Deuteronomy. He amassed for himself great wealth, great military power and, most troubling, a vast harem of foreign wives who wooed him with their pagan gods. The gold became tarnished. Solomon abandoned Yahweh, following after the gods of his wives. And he would be cut off from the blessing of God.

After Solomon’s death, his son, Rehoboam, took the the throne of David.  Things went from bad to worse. His stubbornness and detachment from the plight of the lower class in Israel led to the rebellion of ten of the twelve tribes of Israel.  The nation would split in two. In the south, Judah would remain, under the rule of David’s line, centered in Jerusalem. In the north, Israel - the rebelling tribes - would be ruled by Jeroboam, eventually centered in Samaria. He would build two temples to complete with the temple in Jerusalem. One at Beth-el. A second at Dan. In each temple, King Jeroboam would place a golden calf to represent the God of Israel. 

From this point on, the story goes back and forth between the two kingdoms. Each has about 20 successive kings. Scripture tells us that, in the north, none of the kings followed God’s will. They were zero for 20. In the south, Judah would have 8 of 20 identified as “good” kings. 

Which brings us, today, to Ahab. In the verses that just precede our text today, we read that Ahab “did evil in the Lord’s eyes, more than anyone who preceded him.” He had married a foreign wife, Jezebel. A Phoenician princess from Sidon. Ahab served and worshipped Baal, her Phoenician god, making an altar for Baal in the temple constructed in Samaria for this purpose. He did more to anger God than any of Israel’s preceding kings. 

It is here where our story opens this morning. But, not quite yet.

In last week’s story, one of the characters we met was the Prophet Nathan. 

We really haven’t talked about the role of prophets - these key figures in Israel’s history. They weren’t fortune-tellers, predicting the future. Instead, they spoke on behalf of the God of Israel, playing the role of covenant watchdogs, calling out idolatry and injustice among the kings and the people. 

And constantly reminding Israel of their calling to be the light to the kingdoms and to keep the covenant as it had been established in the Torah.

So, today, in our lesson consisting of three small stories, we meet the Prophet Elijah. 

We begin in 1st Kings, chapter 17.

Elijah from Tishbe, who was one of the settlers in Gilead, said to Ahab, “As surely as the Lord lives, Israel’s God, the one I serve, there will be neither dew nor rain these years unless I say so.”

Then the Lord’s word came to Elijah: Go from here and turn east. Hide by the Wadi Cherith that faces the Jordan River. You can drink from the brook. I have also ordered the ravens to provide for you there. Elijah went and did just what the Lord said. He stayed by the Wadi Cherith that faced the Jordan River. The ravens brought bread and meat in the mornings and evenings. He drank from the Cherith Brook. After a while the brook dried up because there was no rain in the land. 1 Kings 17:1-7 (CEB)

Perhaps the biggest mistake Ahab made was to marry Jezebel. It wasn’t her ethnicity that was a problem. Instead, it was that she came from a nation that worshipped idols. Soon, Israel and Phoenicia would become allies. And, together, Ahab and Jezebel would lead Israel to worship Baal and engage in other pagan customs. Ahab encouraged the Israelites to blend these customs with their worship of God, despite very specific commands given in Deuteronomy to not mix pagan worship with true worship of God.

Idolatry had become a huge problem in Israel.

Enter the Prophet Elijah. He relays a message from God. There will be a drought in the land until Ahab repents. This does not make the king happy. 

Soon, God instructs Elijah to leave - to get away from Ahab, to flee Samaria and the angry king, and to go east, back toward his homeland. He heads to the Wadi Cherith, a brook that feeds into the Jordan River that is often full of water when it rains. But, then, quickly dries up. It is here, beside the Wadi Cherith, that God sustains Elijah - sending ravens to deliver food, morning and evening. Day after day. 

Our story continues.

The Lord’s word came to Elijah: Get up and go to Zarephath near Sidon and stay there. I have ordered a widow there to take care of you. Elijah left and went to Zarephath. As he came to the town gate, he saw a widow collecting sticks. He called out to her, “Please get a little water for me in this cup so I can drink.” She went to get some water. He then said to her, “Please get me a piece of bread.”

“As surely as the Lord your God lives,” she replied, “I don’t have any food; only a handful of flour in a jar and a bit of oil in a bottle. Look at me. I’m collecting two sticks so that I can make some food for myself and my son. We’ll eat the last of the food and then die.”

Elijah said to her, “Don’t be afraid! Go and do what you said. Only make a little loaf of bread for me first. Then bring it to me. You can make something for yourself and your son after that. This is what Israel’s God, the Lord, says: The jar of flour won’t decrease and the bottle of oil won’t run out until the day the Lord sends rain on the earth.” The widow went and did what Elijah said. So the widow, Elijah, and the widow’s household ate for many days. The jar of flour didn’t decrease nor did the bottle of oil run out, just as the Lord spoke through Elijah.  1 Kings 17:8-16 (CEB)

The wadi where Elijah was staying runs dry. 

So, God directs Elijah to Zarephath, only a short distance from Sidon, Jezebel’s hometown. He meets up with a widow - someone promised by God to help sustain him while he is on the run. This widow, who is not named in our story, is a Phoenician. A pagan. She and her son have been hit hard by the drought. When Elijah asks her to make him bread, her response is that she ingredients enough for one remaining loaf. 

But Elijah persists. So, she makes a small loaf for him first, then a second for her and her son. And then she discovers the provision of God - that God will sustain all of them through this. Providing just enough flour and just enough oil for a loaf of bread. Day after day. 

Our story continues.

After these things, the son of the widow, who was the matriarch of the household, became ill. His sickness got steadily worse until he wasn’t breathing anymore. She said to Elijah, “What’s gone wrong between us, man of God? Have you come to me to call attention to my sin and kill my son?”

Elijah replied, “Give your son to me.” He took her son from her and carried him to the upper room where he was staying. Elijah laid him on his bed. Elijah cried out to the Lord, “Lord my God, why is it that you have brought such evil upon the widow that I am staying with by killing her son?” Then he stretched himself over the boy three times and cried out to the Lord, “Lord my God, please give this boy’s life back to him.” The Lord listened to Elijah’s voice and gave the boy his life back. And he lived. Elijah brought the boy down from the upper room of the house and gave him to his mother. Elijah said, “Look, your son is alive!”

“Now I know that you really are a man of God,” the woman said to Elijah, “and that the Lord’s word is truly in your mouth.” 1 Kings 17:17-24 (CEB)

It isn’t long before things take a tragic turn for this woman. Her son gets ill and stops breathing. 

Her natural inclination is to strike out at Elijah - this stranger who has brought this on her household.

But Elijah, in a dramatic scene, cries out to God and then stretches himself out on the lifeless child. Three times. Crying out once more.

God hears him. God listens to Elijah’s voice. The child lives. It is then that his mother knows God.  


On this All Saints Day, I can’t help thinking of all those ancestors in faith who have gone before us. They, like Elijah, like the widow, in our story, have struggled and been challenged with many difficult experiences and hard times. Just as we are challenged in our own lives. 

Yet, as we listened to the first two stories, we witnessed that God sustained Elijah and the widow. First, God’s created beings - the ravens - cared for Elijah each day. Then, we witnessed how the widow, her son, and Elijah, living on the edge of death each day, just getting by, were provided with just enough flour. Just enough oil for one day.

When we mourn. When we are suffering. When we are living on the edge of death and despair, God provides. Just enough for us to get through each day. To have just enough to get through the next. Perhaps this is as miraculous as the miracle story at the end - that resurrection story that is a foretaste of the resurrection we anticipate when God’s kingdom through Christ comes in all its fullness. This is the hope we cling to in this moment. This was the hope that our own ancestors held onto. Trusting that the God who gave them just enough grace, day after day, will also give the grace and hope of that resurrection to come. And the dramatic restoration of life where before there was only death.

In this time, when it may often feel as though God is silent, may we, on this day and always, remember these saints. May we, like Elijah, cry out to God in our anguish. And may we trust, as all of them did, that God will climb into our hurt and our pain, our struggle and our grief, and will restore all things, inviting us into life - a life that they have already received. A life that will go on and on. Without end. Amen.

Preached November 1, 2020, online at Grace & Glory Lutheran Church, Goshen, KY.
All Saints Sunday
Readings: 1 Kings 17:1-24, Luke 4:24-26.