Today we visited the Church of the Annunciation in Nazareth. Before we arrived here, though, we went to Caesarea Maritima, and revisited scripture from Deuteronomy and from Acts. We considered what it means to be called to vocation and noted how so often God calls us to work for which we feel ill-prepared. Work we would never choose to do, left to our own devices.
We considered the story of Elijah in 1 Kings 18-19, how he was charged with defying Ahab and Jezebel as he routed out the prophets of Baal — a ministry that had risen up because of Jezebel’s foreign influence.
In the process of reflecting on this over dinner with friends, I realized I made an embarrassing error in my last blog entry. I confused Isaiah and Elijah, having named Isaiah as a figure in an icon when in fact it was Elijah. At times when I find I have made an error like this — in front of God and a fairly sizable number of folks who follow my blog — I want to hide in my shame and embarrassment. But that is a worn-out routine for me.
Instead, I’d like to practice what Brene Brown calls shame resilience. To own it and move on. (Or as our 12 step friends say, “when we are wrong, we promptly admit it.”) The truth is, my careless or ignorant errors don’t matter so much in the grand scheme of things — they even serve a purpose in keeping me humble. The beauty of it all is that God can use my work to do some good even in spite of my errors. But, still, there’s that part of me that would prefer to be right, to look good at all times.
So, Elijah routed out the prophets of Baal, seeing to it that they were killed. They had already acknowledged they made a mistake and could now recognize the God of all. Was Elijah doing God’s will by showing them no mercy? It’s hard to tell. His actions don’t make him look so good.
Right or wrong, God is there for Elijah. He has him wait on the mountain to encounter his Lord. Elijah finds God, not in the wind, not in the earthquake, not in fire. He finds God in sheer silence — a silence that must have been so powerful, so profound.
At the Church of the Annunciation, I encountered this very modern sculpture of Mary. In it, I see a power so vast, so mighty that it drowns out everything else, creating a silence that is deafening. Perhaps Mary encountered a power so great that she was willing to say “yes, let it be with me according to your word.”