RCL Year A, Proper 14
Psalm 85:8-13, I Kings 19:9-18, Saint Matthew 14:22-33

Words of today’s First Lesson seem to me to be well-suited to finding our footing in a pandemic. “But the Lord was not in the wind…but the Lord was not in the earthquake…but the Lord was not in the fire; and after the fire a sound of sheer silence.”[1]

I take it almost as an article of faith that the Lord has a message for each of us most all of the time. Sometimes the message is affirming. Sometimes the message is correcting. Sometimes the message is instructing, commanding, or prophetic, or it is all three or a combination thereof. When the Lord finally gets Elijah’s attention, the message is commanding, and it is prophetic. “You shall anoint Hazael king over Aram…you shall anoint Jehu…king over Israel…you shall anoint Elisha prophet in your place.”[2] As I said, it is also prophetic: “Whoever escapes from the sword of Hazael, Jehu shall kill; and whoever escapes from the sword of Jehu, Elisha shall kill.”[3]

This message is the Lord’s answer to the problem of the day: all but seven thousand people of Israel have apostatized; they have turned their backs on the Lord who saved them, who brought them up, out of Egypt. They have worshipped Baal. Those apostates will be killed, and the seven thousand faithful ones will live. Taken a step further, the message to Elijah and to Israel is a command to remain faithful to the Lord who made them and who saves them, over and over again.

Together, we could go over the Second Lesson in a similar way, and the message of the Lord would be much the same, for the Lessons are thematically related. When Peter begins to sink, Jesus asks him, “You of little faith, why did you doubt?”[4] At the moment Peter begins to sink, he finds himself in a position similar to the apostates Hazael, Jehu, or Elisha will kill. He has let his faith slip to doubt. And Jesus tells him through that question to remain faithful to the Lord who made him and who saves him, over and over again.

And Jesus’ word to Peter is his word to us. We are to remain faithful to the Lord who made us and who saves us over and over again. The Lord is not to be found in the wind, the earthquake, or the fire. The Lord is not to be found in the pandemic, the tumult, or the unrest. The Lord is to be found in the sheer silence, the sheer silence of eternity, that which never changes, that which is like the Lord in his steadfast loving kindness. It is in the eternal Lord God, who keeps faith forever, who loves infinitely, that we are to put our trust, world without end.

[1] I Kings 19:11-12.

[2] I Kings 19:15-16.

[3] I Kings 19:17.

[4] St Matthew 14:21.