Proper 17A/Ordinary 22A/Pentecost +11
August 28, 2011
This post will not be one of my longer or more profound ones. We are right in the middle of Hurricane Irene at the moment and I am hastily scribbling this before the power goes out.
Televangelists love to snarkily list all the sinners that are at the cause of whatever “Act of God” that has been visited upon humanity. I am sure they are having a field day with Washington, DC, which has had both a sizeable earthquake and a hurricane in the same week, this week. These things are not “Acts of God”, they are acts of nature. But the prophet Elijah also met acts of nature when he was hiding out in a cave in Mount Horeb after persecution by Queen Jezebel. The Lord told Elijah to go out and stand on the mountain, “for the Lord is about to pass by” (1 Kings 19:11). Elijah saw many things that could have been mistaken for Acts of God: a great wind “so strong that it was splitting mountains” (vv.11), an earthquake, and a fire … but the Lord was not in any of these things. Finally, after the fire, Elijah hears “a sound of sheer silence” (vv.12). That sound/non-sound was the sign of the Lord, and Elijah came out of the cave when he heard it, and the Lord spoke to him (vv.13).
The Acts of God were not in the mighty winds or earthquakes we have been experiencing. The Acts of God happen after the winds have subsided, when all is still and we can finally hear the Lord’s voice in the “sound of sheer silence”. It is not the sound of voices loudly denouncing sinners, it is the silent voice of God’s chesed (Hebrew: unconditional love), urging us to help our neighbors and to be of love and service. It is those loving acts after the winds have subsided that are the real Acts of God. Let us go and listen to that sound of sheer silence and do its urging once the storm subsides.