The Gift of Presence
For nearly two weeks, those of us in the Saint Paul Area Synod have been blessed by the presence of ou[...]
[Elijah] went a day’s journey into the wilderness, and came and sat down under a solitary broom tree. He asked that he might die: “It is enough; now, O Lord, take away my life, for I am no better than my ancestors.” Then he lay down under the broom tree and fell asleep. Suddenly an angel touched him and said to him, “Get up and eat.” He looked, and there at his head was a cake baked on hot stones, and a jar of water. He ate and drank, and lay down again. The angel of the Lord came a second time, touched him, and said, “Get up and eat, otherwise the journey will be too much for you.” He got up, and ate and drank; then he went in the strength of that food forty days and forty nights to Horeb the mount of God.
—1 Kings 19:4-8 (NRSV)
In our staff devotions this week, Deacon Krista Lind used this story from I Kings 19 to invite us to consider all the ways that God attends to our weariness in tough and exhausting times. Many church leaders are feeling a sense of fatigue as we continue to face decisions about how to safely gather during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
You may be one of those pastors, deacons, or congregational officers who are balancing the renewed excitement for in-person worship and fall programs with the latest information from public health sources about the Delta variant. Like Elijah in the biblical account, you may be ready to say — “It is enough.” Yet, we know that our leadership needs to remain calm and unwavering for the well-being of the communities we serve.
I pray you will discover the ways that God continues to buoy your spirits for a public health challenge that impacts our daily lives. I and others really do pray for you. Whether encouragement comes through a holy cake prepared by an angel, a daily devotion, or the work of a leadership team, we will make it through this arduous time with hope and (mostly) good cheer.
Here are the four things I encourage you to remember:
In I Kings 19, after an exhausting series of struggles over leadership and faithfulness, the prophet Elijah still had a holy purpose to fulfill. As community and congregational leaders, so do we. In ancient times the angel said to the prophet, “Get up and eat, otherwise the journey will be too much for you.” God continues to speak to our deep needs, lifting us up for the work we still need to do. Thank you for trusting that God will see us — all of us — through another season of caution.
Yours in God’s service,
Bishop Patricia Lull