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Eden Evangelical Lutheran Church ~ Munising, Michigan

Hymn Sing Commentary - 08/13/2017

1 Kings reading
Low point for Elijah and his ministry.

He's worked hard as the prophet God called him to be … and despite all of it, despite the long history of what God has done for God's people,  so many of them just don't seem to care at all about living in the love and security of God's law. They don't seem to give any priority to being part of a faith community. They don't seem at all interested in sharing what God has done in them and in their lives with a community. They don't seem to want to say “yes” to the way God unites the world, and “no” the way the world continually tries to divide us.

Like Paul says in Galations 3:28 “There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus.”

It's in the face of the power Jesus has brought into this world that these walls and divisions cannot stand when we are in these communities .. divisions between rich and poor, black and white, liberal and conservative, right wing and left wing, Christian and Muslim, American and not American, gay and straight, first nation and conqueror. In one way or another, I've named every single person in this room  ... what we may perceive  as pretty impenetrable divisions between us … and yet, and yet … God has decreed that  IT … WE …  THEM … ALL …..  are one in Christ Jesus.

That's a pretty big life-changing, world-changing truth we live in, Church. And yet, people don't seem to want to come. And so I hear us speaking to one another as Elijah speaks to the Lord here on this vacant, barren, lifeless mountaintop. “I have been very zealous for the Lord, the God of hosts … “ “Where are the people?” “Why isn't church important to people anymore?” “Sunday school and bible study just aren't a priority for anyone these days.” “How can people make it through life without a faith community to support and love them and help them understand what is going on in this world?”

; for the Israelites have forsaken your covenant, thrown down your altars, and killed your prophets with the sword. I alone am left, and they are seeking my life, to take it away.”

“Well, what are you doing here, Elijah?” God asks … a couple of times. God is not in all the chaos that scares us and Elijah so much that we just want to run as far and as fast from it as we can … somewhere we can isolate ourselves from all the wind and fire and earthquakiness of this world. Somewhere we can complain to God about what's wrong with this world and then hide out from it.  No, God is not there. Rather, God is in the silence of our prayer time and then, our faith assures us, God is in the GOING and the NEW THINGS God is up to next in this windy, fiery, earthquakey world …

So the question remains. “Why are you here, Elijah? … Go to the wilderness of Damascus and serve me there.” “Why are you here, Church? … Go to the wilderness of Munising and Shingleton and Christmas and Wetmore and Charlottesville, VA, and beyond and serve me there because that's where I am. I'm just waiting for you all to catch up.”

We sing #785 When Peace Like a River

Psalm 86

Pslams – their structures often mirror what is to live as a child of God. It's what Walter Brueggemann explains at  Orientation, Disorientation, Reorientation.

So in Pslam 86, the orientation is found in the cry of the Pslamist – O Lord my God, incline your ear and show me your grace. Listen to me God and save me from this brokenness. The person is calling out for God to break into some impoverished part of their life. It could be anything. They could be literally hungry for food, or hungry in a host of other ways.

We hear the disorientation in the refrain. Teach me your ways, not the world's ways. I want to walk in Your Truth, not the what the world says is truth.

And finally the reorientation – the new place God prepares for us, O Lord my God you are so good and for that I give thanks. So through the course of the brief little sung prayer, we move from the poor servant who cries to God out of the brokenness of their life to the well-cared for child of God walking in the truth and ways and giving thanks for it all.

Matthew Gospel reading

I'm going to let the text preach itself this week with this little bit of a preface.

Hearing Bishop Eaton preach on this text this week has inspired me to challenge us, as we hear this familiar story of Jesus walking on water, to maybe reframe it a little. She made me realize that when we hear the story of what happens to Peter that we see it in a very negative way and as a reflection of the strength of Peter's faith. But that's not really what it's about and that's not Jesus approach with us. Yes, Jesus sets the bar high on what we should strive for in our continual push to love God with every cell of our bodies and to serve one another with as little judgment and division as we can learn to muster. But he doesn't ask us to do what we cannot … dive into the deeps of the sea like a humpback whale or soar through the sky like eagle does. Nor would he ask Peter to walk on water because Peter, like us is a human being and is not meant to walk on water. So what's going on here then? I suggest we think of it in this way – we too can get very excited by our faith, especially when it opens our eyes wide to the incredible ways God is at work in and around us. And sometimes that makes us feel like we can to anything in God. We can do a lot in God, but sometimes we aren't meant to do what we might be trying or we're not able for some reason and we fall short or maybe even downright fail. But it's OK, this story is helping us see as we hear Jesus' words to Peter enter into our own lives. “It's OK you of human-sized faith,” Jesus says. “I've got your back.”

Pastor Ann Gonyea

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Eden Evangelical Lutheran Church ~ Munising Michigan ~ An ELCA, Northern Great Lakes Synod Congregation
P.O. Box 360 ~ 1150 West M-28 ~ Munising, MI 49862 ~ 1-906-387-2520 ~ contact@edenonthebay.org

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