Getting Ready for Sunday by the Rev. Perry Mullins

Proper 6, Year C – June 12, 2016

1 Kings 21:1-10, 11-14, 15-21a

This is not the first time that Ahab and Elijah meet. At this point in the story, they are more like old rivals than heated enemies. Each time King Ahab transgresses, the prophet Elijah appears and speaks a Word from God before disappearing again into the wilderness.

Ahab develops an unfortunate habit of doing evil, meeting Elijah and hearing God’s voice, experiencing a little remorse, but then eventually running Elijah off again because the things he says and does are so difficult. Over and over it happens, predictably, like the chase of the roadrunner and the coyote. Over time, the pattern becomes a part of Ahab and the sin digs its way deep into his soul.

In this chapter, King Ahab and his wife Jezebel kill a man in order to take his vineyard. Ahab asks to buy the vineyard, and when Naboth refuses, Jezebel springs into action. An innocent man is stoned to death, and when the king hears the news, he doesn’t mourn. He makes his way to the man’s vineyard to take it for himself. And when Elijah appears, he speaks a word from God—judgment on Ahab, “Thus says the Lord: in the place where dogs licked up the blood of Naboth, dogs will also lick up your blood.”

It may not be the first time that the King and the prophet collide, but it is the last. And because it is the last, there is a momentary break in the pattern. Ahab pauses to comment on his situation, and perhaps unwittingly takes stock of his life, all in one profound line. He hears
Elijah’s familiar voice, what has been to Ahab the very voice of God, and he cries out in reply, “Have you found me, O my enemy?”

Wearied by the sin that drags him down time and time again, he points out in himself that which has become obvious. Ahab, through a long life spent in his pattern of sin, has formed himself to be an enemy of God—not simply a momentary transgressor, but a more permanent sort of adversary.

Ahab’s story is a warning. The patterns by which we live form us to be a particular kind of person. The Christian who continually gives in to greed, for instance, will become the kind of person who can no longer be content—the kind of person, like Ahab, who devours the people and things around him. The alternative is to walk in the way of the cross, to live in patterns of sacrifice for the life of the world. The patterns we embrace will change our souls for eternity.

Which of your habits are forming you to be an enemy of God, and which ones are making you more like Christ?

The Rev. Perry Mullins is an Associate Priest at Good Shepherd in Dallas. 

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Getting Ready for Sunday by Pedro Lara

3rd Sunday after Pentecost (Proper 5)

In our first reading (both track 1 and 2), we get in Kings the story of the prophet Elijah reviving the desperately ill son of the widow who has fed him in Zarephath. If upon reading the Gospel, you get the sense that it sounds strikingly like the story of Elijah in the first reading, it is because Luke seems to have explicitly used the same story to make a parallel. It all seems to fit: Jesus comes to a town (Nain), as did Elijah (Zarephath, 1 Kgs 17:10); a widow is met at the gate of the town (17:10); the son of the widow is restored (17:22). Yet, there is one significant difference between Luke’s narrative and the story of Elijah in Kings: whereas Elijah had to pray three times to the Lord and stretch himself over the child, Jesus, through his own authority raised the widow’s son by command. The immediate response of the dead boy was to “rise and begin to speak,” which shows the extent of Jesus’ power. We see not only a miracle, but also Jesus’ authority over death itself, as well as his authority to speak life into existence. This elicits from the bystanders a fundamental Christological affirmation; that the man who has power over life and death, Jesus, is recognized as the awaited “great prophet”. This is not just any prophet, but the eschatological prophet, the “stronger one” who is like Moses (Deut. 18:15, 18). As the eschatological prophet Jesus reveals his own character as well as both his and the fathers intention/will towards redeeming humanity. Revealed to us is a compassionate and merciful God whom is determined to deal with the problem of suffering caused by sin and death. Our Great prophet Jesus Christ, whom has power and authority over life and death, has come to reconcile us back to himself as well as redeeming and restoring the damage done both by sin and death. Thus, what transpires in this Sunday’s Gospel is the revelation of God’s reign over life and death, in the person of our Lord Jesus Christ, whom is the destroyer of death and corruption.

As ministers and proclaimers of the Gospel we are to preach the life, death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. In proclaiming his life we are to be witnesses that Jesus brought sight to the blind, healed the lame and deaf, cleansed the lepers, raised up the dead, and brought the good news to the poor (Luke 7:22). What a perfect opportunity we have in this Sunday’s Gospel to proclaim the good news that our Lord Jesus Christ, our “great prophet,” whom has authority over life and death, whom raised the widow’s boy up, whom rose from the dead Himself, will also one day raise us up and restore all of the damage that has come with sin and death. This my brothers and sisters is the Good News of the Gospel. If the report of this event “spread through the whole of Judea and all the surrounding country” (Lk 7:17), imagine the results of proclaiming the Gospel beginning in the community we find yourselves in. Thus, the nugget in this Gospel is the message that our Lord Jesus, who raises the dead, will upon his return, like the widow’s boy also fully restore us and all of his creation, finally brining an end to both sin and death, which is a message that the world and the church needs to hear again now more than ever.

Pedro Lara is a seminarian at Nashotah House Theological Seminary

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This is a blog of essays meant to prepare parishioners for an upcoming Sunday reading.