I remember the first time this scripture really made an impact on me. I was sitting in the Abbey Church at St John’s University for the funeral of Marc’s uncle Jim, who was a monk at St. John’s and this was the reading for the day.
Elijah says to the widow of Zarephath, who has next to nothing, that if she makes him a little cake of bread to eat, the jar of meal and jug of oil will never be empty. God, as God often does, is about the work of multiplying gifts and blessings just when we think we have reached empty.
Sitting in that unique sanctuary, hearing this story about meal and oil that didn’t fail, knowing that we would be bringing home Johnnie bread (the famous bread the monks at St John’s bake), and watching all those men of faith chanting was powerful.
I knew Jim from Christmas parties and family events; he even was the co-presiding minister at our wedding (not everyone gets both a Lutheran pastor and Catholic priest presiding at their wedding, but we did). Uncle Jim was a humble, kind, and brilliant man. He served in all kinds of ways from making furniture, teaching, project management, overseeing the campus fire department, being a headmaster, trimming trees, and many other tasks.
Frankly, the pure breadth and width of work that Jim did was overwhelming. He was one of those people who excelled at hospitality, he called people by name, and made them feel welcome and at home in any situation. Jim’s life reflected the miracle that Elijah speaks of, he trusted that the bread wasn’t going to run out. Jim believed that God uses anything and everything that we have, even if we think we don’t have much, to share God’s grace and love in the world.
Who in your life has trusted that God continues to use them, even in their poverty or grief?
Who has shown you that every gift is a gift that God can and will use to further the kingdom of God?
Who has reminded you that God knows you by name, that you are loved, and that you matter?
If you haven’t had a chance yet, today I invite you to light a candle in honor of one of the saints in your life. We give thanks to God for all those who have gone before us. And we give thanks, that we have had and will continue to have, companions along the way of life to help us see the face of God.
In Peace, Pastor Ruth
God of love,
By the power of God, Elijah provided bread and oil for the widow and her family.
By faith in God, the widow provided food and water for Elijah.
Give us hearts to love one another.
Help us experience how big the power of God is.
We pray in the name of Jesus Chris.