Aftermath: Charlottesville, 14 August 2017

Sunday’s Old Testament reading was beautiful: from 1 Kings, chapter 19

Then the word of the LORD came to him, saying, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” He answered, “I have been very zealous for the LORD, the God of hosts; 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.” He said, “Go out and stand on the mountain before the LORD, for the LORD is about to pass by.” Now there was a great wind, so strong that it was splitting mountains and breaking rocks in pieces before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake; and after the earthquake a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire; and after the fire a sound of sheer silence. When Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his mantle and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave. Then there came a voice to him that said, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” He answered, “I have been very zealous for the LORD, the God of hosts; 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.” Then the LORD said to him, “Go, return on your way to the wilderness of Damascus…

Ah, if only it were that simple.

God came to me, saying, “What are you doing here, Adrienne?” And I answered, “I have been very zealous for justice, for peace, God, but some have forsaken our covenants, our laws, our constitution, they seek to throw down equal rights and kill people. I am old now and I do not know what You want of me.” And God said, “Go out and stand on the front again, for right is confronting wrong, good is facing evil.” Now there was a great confusion, so strong that it was splitting groups and breaking people, and I don’t know if God was in the confusion. And after the confusion there was violence and I don’t know if God was in the violence. And after the violence there was injury and death, and I pray that God was there. But I was not. I was home, in my safe cave, praying. And there came a voice to me that said, “What are you doing here, Adrienne?” And I answered, “I don’t know, oh God, I don’t know anymore, if I ever did. God, I am not worthy, but only say Your Word and my soul will be healed.”

Sunday’s Gospel reading was powerful: from Matthew 14

Immediately he made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead to the other side, while he dismissed the crowds. And after he had dismissed the crowds, he went up the mountain by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone, but by this time the boat, battered by the waves, was far from the land,[d] for the wind was against them. And early in the morning he came walking toward them on the sea. But when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were terrified, saying, “It is a ghost!” And they cried out in fear. But immediately Jesus spoke to them and said, “Take heart, it is I; do not be afraid.” Peter answered him, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” He said, “Come.” So Peter got out of the boat, started walking on the water, and came toward Jesus. But when he noticed the strong wind, he became frightened, and beginning to sink, he cried out, “Lord, save me!” Jesus immediately reached out his hand and caught him, saying to him, “You of little faith, why did you doubt?” When they got into the boat, the wind ceased. And those in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.”

Ah, if only it were that simple.

Where do You want me, God? In the boat, struggling to keep it afloat through the daily turbulence? Walking with You on the stormy seas, braving the dangers and the depths of our depravity to each other? Will You save me when I sink, when my faith fails me?

It seems, for me, youth was the age of many questions and ready answers. Old age is the age of many questions and no answers.

Ah, but didn’t I decide 14 years ago that I did not pray for answers but rather prayer is the answer?

Amen. Shalom. Alleluia. In faith and hope and love

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