June 17

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1 Kings 17:8-16

Then the word of the LORD came to Elijah, saying, “Go now to Zarephath, which belongs to Sidon, and live there; for I have commanded a widow there to feed you.” So he set out and went to Zarephath. When he came to the gate of the town, a widow was there gathering sticks; he called to her and said, “Bring me a little water in a vessel, so that I may drink.” As she was going to bring it, he called to her and said, “Bring me a morsel of bread in your hand.” But she said, “As the LORD your God lives, I have nothing baked, only a handful of meal in a jar, and a little oil in a jug; I am now gathering a couple of sticks, so that I may go home and prepare it for myself and my son, that we may eat it, and die.” Elijah said to her, “Do not be afraid; go and do as you have said; but first make me a little cake of it and bring it to me, and afterwards make something for yourself and your son. For thus says the LORD the God of Israel: The jar of meal will not be emptied and the jug of oil will not fail until the day that the LORD sends rain on the earth.” She went and did as Elijah said, so that she as well as he and her household ate for many days. The jar of meal was not emptied, neither did the jug of oil fail, according to the word of the LORD that he spoke by Elijah.
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A little background: Ahab was a king of Israel, and he was the worst, most wicked king ever. He had a little pagan/idolatry problem. When he married Jezebel and started worshiping Baal (a pagan god of fertility), the God of Israel had had enough. Through the prophet Elijah God caused a drought to cover the land. Elijah had to go into hiding so the king wouldn’t kill him. At first he hid by a river, and the birds brought him food (kind of like Snow White). But then the river dried up (remember the drought), so in this text God tells Elijah to go stay with a widow in Zarephath. One thing that really jumped out at us: the woman has only a little meal left, just enough for one last supper for her and her son. Elijah promises her the jar won’t run out, and then asks her to give him a little meal first. That’s the magic moment: a miracle has been promised but not seen. In the moment, the woman has to sacrifice, to give up her last little bit of food, trusting the promise. It’s an amazing example of faith—faith as action, faith as taking the risky, fateful step, trusting that the promise will come true. We are prudent Presbyterians living in a hedge-your-bets world. What might it mean to step out in faith like this, for us as individuals and a community? What might it mean to risk what we’ve got, trusting that there will always be enough?

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