By: JUBILEE! Minister Rev. Candace Chellew-Hodge
In our reading from the Hebrew scriptures (1 Kings 19:4-8) this morning we find the prophet Elijah in a place that was pretty common for prophets – out in the wilderness. Elijah was on the run for his life after defeating Queen Jezebel’s army of 450 priests in a fire contest. They couldn’t convince their God Baal to even produce a spark, while the God of Abraham had sent so much fire that consumed the offering, the altar and even dried up the water around the altar.
Now, Elijah probably thought he’d be winning some worldly accolades he may have been hungering for. After all, he had just shown the queen who the true prophet was, and it wasn’t any of her guys – who were now all dead, anyway, slaughtered by Elijah after their defeat.
But, it didn’t work out for him that way. Instead, the queen’s anger was kindled against him and he fled into the wilderness after she threatened to kill him in retaliation for her humiliation.
So, this is where we find our ancient Hebrew cousin – despondent, sitting under a broom tree in the desert, asking for God to just go ahead and smite him now because if a show of heavenly fire won’t give him the street cred he needs with the local rulers, then he’s really got nothing left.
Here, out in the wilderness, we find Elijah tired, depressed and hungry. He’s physically hungry, yes – but more than that, Elijah is spiritually hungry. He’s like any of us trying to find our place in the world. We try to impress those around us. Perhaps we can’t bring fire down from heaven, but we are forever dancing as fast as we can trying to show the world we’re worthy, trying to prove to the world that we’re good enough for the job, good enough for the relationship, good enough for the community, good enough to be accepted and loved.
All the excitement of the day – the fire show, the fleeing, the desperation – have worn out Elijah and he falls asleep. Don’t we do that, too? Sometimes our spiritual hunger gets so unbearable, that we just turn off – we become unconscious in this world. We try our best to stop thinking about that gnawing ache in the pit of our stomachs – that emptiness in our heart and spirit. We become numb. We go through the routine of the day and try not to dwell too long on our despair, on the emptiness that threatens to overtake us.
“Get up and eat.” That’s what God tells Elijah, and She tells us that still today. “Get up and eat.” Stop sleepwalking through your life and get your fill of that spiritual meat that awaits you in every moment of your life. Jubilants, the Holy invites us to dinner and dancing in every moment of our lives.
Spiritual food, that delicious sweet, succulent mystery of life, surrounds in every moment of our lives. But, we choose to go hungry, to sleepwalk through our lives, looking for things that won’t satisfy our hungry hearts.
The food that the Holy gives us doesn’t come from a farm, it doesn’t come from a chicken, it doesn’t come from a plant or even from the grease pits of McDonalds. It comes from that connection with the divine and with one another. The most satisfying food in this world is that food of love, of relationship, of being there with and for one another. We may eat potluck together and go out to lunch after celebration, but what really feeds us in each of those settings is not the food, but one another. Without each other, the journey of this life would be too much for any of us.
Jubilants, get up and eat! Breathe deeply.