We are nourished through Christ to be nourishment for others as we journey together.
Vicar Andrea Bonneville
The Eleventh Sunday after Pentecost, Lect. 19 B
Text: 1 Kings 19:4-8
Beloved in Christ, grace and peace to you in the name of the Father, and of the + Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen
Don’t grieve over who the Holy Spirit has created you to be.
Listening to voices that say that you are too young or too old, or don’t have enough skills or experience or training to engage in the tasks ahead. Being so overwhelmed or filled with fear and anxiety that it stuns you. Having a sense that no matter what you do, it is not going to be good enough or have a big enough impact.
Perhaps these are the voices and messages that got into Elijah’s head. The voices that drove him restlessly into the wilderness and that caused him to have no choice but to lay down and rest, suggesting that continuing the journey was going to be too much for him.
Elijah has a justifiable reason for his overwhelming exhaustion and yet it is easy to look at his situation and think that he is just being a little over dramatic.
But Elijah gets to a point in his life that resembles what we call burn out. Feeling so exhausted that he’d rather give up than continue to do what he has been called to do. It’s incredible he went a day’s journey into the wilderness to begin with.
The way I see it is that Elijah had two options. He could run away from the call the Triune God had placed on his life and go live a more comfortable life someplace else or he could run into the wilderness of the sin and suffering of the world and learn how to find rest there.
One instinct is to look at Elijah and just say, come on, get up, we have work to do. That’s what our society would tell us to do. To ignore our need to care for ourselves so we can produce more and do more.
But another instinct is to have compassion and empathy for Elijah and just say, it’s okay to rest, here have some nourishment. The angel in the story today does the opposite of what the pressures of world teach. The angel sees Elijah under the tree and tells him to eat and rest.
The need to rest and find nourishment in the midst of chaos in the middle of the wilderness is what the prophet Elijah teaches us today.
Elijah figures out how to go into the wilderness and find rest, not through what he does, but through what he finds on the journey. Not because he alone has all the strength that he needs but because he realized that he can’t go on the journey alone.
We are the people called by God to go into the wilderness to proclaim a message of hope, a message that Christ is the bread of life and light of the world. A message that we proclaim to each other and to our community. It is a lifelong task and if we don’t find places to rest and nourish ourselves on the journey, we are going to burn out.
So if today you are feeling tired, or overwhelmed, or lonely, or anxious, or afraid. Worn down from the sin and suffering of the world. There is a place for you to rest, even in the midst of chaos, even on this wilderness journey.
Following God’s call will lead us to find places where we can release the burdens the world has forced us to carry. Release the anger, fear, all the things that hold us back.
We may not always know what rest will look like for us and so we are challenged to find places to rest even as the world challenges us to keep moving and to keep doing. Finding a way to even rest in the unknown of what is next.
God isn’t going to lead us to places where we are going to fail. God isn’t going to leave us alone in the wilderness. This is the purpose of the angel and the tree and it is the purpose of each of us.
To be the presence of God, filled with love, forgiveness, and passion for caring for all of God’s creation. Peeling back layers of exhaustion so that the light of Christ continues to shine from our hearts and nourishes all around us.
But we can only be nourishment if we are nourished.
Nourished by being in community with each other and seeing and being with people embodying God’s love and forgiveness.
Nourished from having a sense of routine and enjoying spiritual practices, such as meditation, music, gardening, whatever helps us to express who God calls us to be. Finding ways to use our bodies, our voices, and our minds to care for and advocate for our neighbors and all of God’s creation.
Nourished by being who the Holy Spirit has called us to be. Living out our vocations at work, or in school, or during retirement. Joyfully loving who we love. And finding meaning and happiness in all of the unique things that make each of us who we are as God’s beloved.
Nourished by believing that our worth is not assessed by our performances and our work, but solely for being who we are and trusting that we are worthy of the love and the calling the Holy Spirit has placed in our hearts and sealed on our forehead.
It is simple and profoundly complex at the same time. But the more we know and trust that we are loved and the embodiment of Christ’s love in the world. The more beauty, and life, and love, and nourishment we will give and receive.
When we continually lean into the person the Holy Spirit created us to be, we find rest and find nourishment that can only come from God who truly is our bread of life.
At the very least my hope is that this place, this community is a place where you find rest. Taking what you learn about yourself, about God, about love, grace, and justice here. Taking in the nourishment you receive from Christ’s table and finding places in which this table extends into our daily lives.
Where all can find love and forgiveness.
Where all can find rest and nourishment for the journey
Get up and eat, feast on the bread of life, otherwise the journey will be too much for you.