Sunday, June 27, 2010

“Pity Party” (1 Kings 19:9-10).

S-1196 5SAP/3C Hymns 6/27/10, (O) #400; S #54; L.S. #424; #354; #428; (C) #451 vv.1, 4

Texts: 1 Kings 19:9-21; Galatians 5:1, 13-25; Luke 9:51-62

Theme: “Pity Party” (1 Kings 19:9-10).

Question: Have you ever felt sorry for yourself?


Faithful followers of the Savior, Christ is Risen! He is Risen Indeed! Alleluia! The text for this fifth Sunday after Pentecost is from the O.T. lesson: “Behold, the Word of the LORD came to him, and He said to him, ‘What are you doing here, Elijah?’ He said, ‘I have been very jealous for the LORD, the God of hosts. For the people of Israel have forsaken Your covenant, thrown down Your altars, and killed Your prophets with the sword, and I, even I only, am left, and they seek my life, to take it away.’” (1 Kings 19:9-10).

Introduction: In Nomine IESU

People of God, chosen and beloved, have you ever felt like having a pity party? Have you ever invited these three people to your pity party, I, me, and myself? You know, we do that often whether we admit it or not. Last week we had friends over from ND and started playing cards. Well, it wasn’t my night. The ladies were whooping us up. It seems like everyone else had good cards except me. I was always close but no cigar. My face showed that I wasn’t very happy. And it seems like adding salt to the wound everyone was picking on me. You know that looks on your face without a smile and the lips sticking out. One of our guests Blake said: “Poor pastor everyone is picking on him!” That is of course how I felt.

We all like pity parties. We like to dwell in misery and misery likes company. Today, we see the mighty man and messenger of God Elijah whose name means Yahweh is my God having a pity party. This mighty messenger of God has done mighty miracles of raising the son of the woman of Zarephath, withheld rain from Israel for 3 ½ years and brought fire from the sky that consumed the altar, stone and offering and afterwards gave the command to kill the 450 prophets of Baal on top of Mt. Carmel.

Today, as you look at this man, with all of his credential, his many victories for the Lord, you wonder why would he be running for his life and why is he having a pity party. We meet Elijah as he has an encounter with Yahweh on Mount Horeb. Recently Elijah had been on another mountain, Carmel, where he challenged the prophets of Baal and demonstrated the truth about Yahweh (1 Kg 18). This infuriates Jezebel, so he runs for his life. Once he makes it to the desert, however, Elijah crawls under a tree and prays not for deliverance but for death. But just as God had sustained him once with ravens and again through the widow of Zarephath, now He sends an angel to feed him and send him on his way to Horeb, the mountain of God (19:1-8).

Once he arrives, the greeting is pointed. The Word of Yahweh comes to him: “What are you doing here, Elijah?” We could infer by this question of God these thoughts: "and not where you are supposed to be?" Elijah explains that he has been very zealous for Yahweh; that of the prophets he alone remains alive; and that the people of Israel seek to kill him. But the response is simply the instruction to go and stand before Yahweh Himself. As Yahweh approaches, the wind breaks rocks, the earth shakes, and a fire rages. But God was not in the wind, nor in the earthquake, nor in the fire. We might say that these come “before Yahweh,” that is, they signal His advent. But when Yahweh Himself arrives, He arrives in quietness (v. 12). Elijah recognizes this and covers his face before God.

Beloved in the Lord, don’t look to God in the earthquake, or in the strong wind. Remember His strength and power is found in such gifts as love and joy, peace, patience and kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Hollywood wants us to see power in the guy who is muscular, the one who has the largest toys, biggest guns, the biggest bank account or the one who goes out to conquer the weak and the small. Human wisdom is truly something else, isn’t it!

Where is He? Holy Scripture paints this serene picture—in the small still voice! Where is His strength and power? The Apostle Paul put it this way, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness." (2 Corinthians 12:9)! Do you want to see power, don’t go to Hollywood, or the races or the Bull riding event that is going to took place this weekend—this is nothing but man’s power which is no power at all. But, instead open God’s Holy Book and there read of the spectacular, superb and splendid power of God made manifest to all. You will see His power in the fruit of the Spirit which sprouted forth from the Tree of Life, that is, from the Cross... It is finished!

In the cross comes the power to live and move and have our being. The cross is the power that has changed our lot from being outsiders to insiders. That is the same power that the Lord offers Elijah today. “Where are you Elijah?” Inferring: “Where you are not supposed to be!

God was saying to Elijah, “You don’t belong here. This is not my mission and ministry for you. Get up and get going. You are my man Elijah. I have a mission for you.” Hearing the Word, Elijah wouldn’t look back. He gets down from Mt. of Horeb and returns to the Dessert of Damascus to carry on the mission the God of Israel sent him to accomplish. Yahweh tells him. “And when you get there, do this: anoint Hazael king over Aram; anoint Jehu son of Nimshi king over Israel; and anoint Elisha son of Shaphat as your successor. Jehu will kill any­one who escapes the sword of Hazael, and Elisha any who escapes Jehu.” Then Yahweh adds: “I have kept seven thousand in Israel who have not bowed down to Baal or kissed him.” God has called Elijah, and God expects Elijah to heed His call. It doesn’t matter to God that prophets throughout the country have been killed and that his life is in danger, and so it shouldn’t matter to Elijah. “Get back and get going,” is the Word of the Lord.

The story continues with Elijah passing on the mantel of the Prophet to Elisha, that he has done enough. When Elisha asks to return home first to kiss mother and father good-bye, Elijah knows that this will not do. He must set his face resolutely toward Jerusalem, or at least proclaim Him who can and will and did - even Jesus! With this rebuke of the younger man, in Godly wisdom, the younger Elisha whose name means “God is Salvation,” goes so far as to burn the yoke of his oxen then sacrifice the beasts to feed the people. He is resolute. In doing this, the younger soon-to-be prophet of God was strengthened to preach to ears that would not hear, to hearts that would not be turned. Indeed, this prophet spoke of God’s drought, went to bless a widow with a miraculous outpouring of oil - reminiscent of Elijah, but with a double portion of the Holy Spirit. He spoke forcefully against sin among his own people. He knew the strength was in the Word, not the strong wind, in the Earthquake of Good Friday, not of man! PAUSE.

Can you relate to Elijah? We, too have times of victory when God seems so real and so powerful. Then comes the discouraging moments when we feel surrounded by skeptics, cut of from believers, and scorned for our Christian commitment. Like Elijah we run away and wallow in self-pity. Lonely, afraid, discouraged, and depressed, we desperately need help.

And certainly there is help in the mighty powerful Word of God. And that power is ours. You and I may feel like having a pity party. Elijah felt it too. But God is our power, strength and confidence. In the book of Matthew we read, “With God ALL (emphases mine) things are possible” (19:26). And, indeed it is.

Elijah heard the call and went. Elisha continued in the spirit and might of Elijah the ministry of salvation to the people of Israel. But it is the Son of Mary, who indeed heard and carried out completely and fully the Command of God. He came not only for the house of Israel, but for the world’s redemption and fulfilled it on the cross. Now there is the power of God. In the weakness of the Man made flesh we see life. In the blood of the Man made flesh we receive forgiveness. And from the lips of the Man made flesh we are welcomed to the family. There is power in the cross to be sure.

Ah, the Cross, the Cross, the Cross! Jesus saw your cross always before Him. He saw you, unable to stand, even to carry it to the hill of death let alone be nailed to it. He saw you and with love and in His joy, with His peace, He was patient, enduring the lashings of man’s anger and bitterness, patiently watching and listening as others spoke of Him as being weak and powerless to save Himself. He showed the self-control that is born only in the goodness, faithfulness and gentleness of a true Father, for as we see Him we see the Father (John14:9). His Spirit was poured out for you and on you on Pentecost Day; and filled you with joy all because He was resolute in going to Jerusalem - to die!

By the grace of God and the mighty power we have received in Word and Sacrament we—His beloved Bride become the Elijah’s, the Elisha’s and the Jesus’ to the world. We no longer stoop low running here and there because we are afraid. But armed with the GOSPEL power we are changed to be mighty messengers of hope and help to a world that is lost.

We His redeemed children don’t sit and pout and have pity party, but strengthened by His Spirit, drawing and drinking from the Tree of Life, we take the powerful message of the cross and go where God sends us.

Today, hear the whisper of God as He calls you to come and dine at His table, receive His forgiveness, bask in His grace and go in His name to a world that need you. Amen.

Now the peace of God…


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