GOD CARES FOR ELIJAH
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My daughter was working in another state after college. For some reason, and I don’t remember why, she was home visiting. We had gone to church as a family, and I remember feeling happy that all my “chicks” were in the nest at least for the weekend.
Just as church was to begin, she excitedly told me she had run into her boss and his family in the hallway. They were in Maryland and had chosen our church to attend. It was obvious they had no plans for Sabbath lunch since they asked whether the church had a potluck. It did not. The next step should have been natural, but it wasn’t. I’m not gifted when it comes to hospitality.
The next step should have been natural, but it wasn’t. I’m not gifted when it comes to hospitality.
Before you wonder at such a statement, it has nothing to do with friendliness or being kind to others, and everything to do with talent. I worship in a church community where the women excel in this area. They have beautiful dining rooms, matching tablecloths, exquisite place-settings, seasonal table decor, all the right serving dishes, and double-ovens to ensure everything is on the table hot at the same time. I not only don’t have those things, they aren’t particularly important to me. Give me a board meeting to chair and I’m happy. Ask me to plan a dinner party—not so much.
We extended the invitation to dinner because it was the right thing to do. But I had a dilemma.
We extended the invitation to dinner because it was the right thing to do. But I had a dilemma. While I had a meal planned, it wasn’t enough, and I had no idea how to stretch it. I didn’t hear much of the sermon that morning. What could I do to make this meal go further? I don’t remember what ended up on the table or how the house looked, but I do remember everyone ate their fill and there were leftovers. More importantly, our guests repeatedly expressed how nice it was to spend the Sabbath together in someone’s home.
Lesson learned, but one I still struggle with today. I need to remember that hospitality isn’t about the place-settings or the food. It’s about the fellowship and the willingness to share.
The story this week introduces Elijah. There are many applications from this prophet’s experience, but what struck me most as I re-studied this story was the willingness of the widow. Elijah asked for a meal, and that he be served first. Although she hesitated, she offered all she had. Like my Sabbath lunch, she hadn’t planned on an extra person, but the provisions didn’t fail. By giving all, she gained everything.
By giving all, she gained everything.
It’s a lesson we need to remember, especially when it comes to hospitality. Opening your home isn’t about how clean it is, how much food is in the pantry, or how gifted you are in serving, but about sharing. Makes me think it might be time to invite someone over again where they can find fellowship and I will be renewed.
Before Elijah ever came on the scene, there was apostacy in Judah. Solomon had introduced foreign gods. As a result, God tore a part of the kingdom from Solomon, and gave 10 tribes to Jereboam. Jereboam’s first decision was to create two golden calves and establish two worship centers in Samaria. What’s interesting is that Jereboam did this all in the name of God. Prompted by his own insecurities and fears, he created a “shortcut” to God. He made worship convenient. He made worship comfortable. He made worship creative.
Perhaps those last three sentences come close to home in your church community. What many churches do today is to make worship convenient (worship from wherever you are), comfortable (wear whatever you like), and creative (any number of things to “entice” someone to worship). While there’s nothing inherently wrong with any of these, we do want worship to be meaningful and focused on God—we still need to be careful. We must be sure that God is truly the center of worship and not a performance of our own making.
Making it Real
This week you have a choice. You can do one or the other to enhance the application of the lesson or do both!
- Do something this week that involves hospitality for someone other than your family. Include your children in the process. Teach them about how to be hospitable. Plan the menu. Create a fancy invitation. Plan activities that will make the person/people feel welcome in your home. This can be for someone you know, but it may be more meaningful if the individual is someone you recently met.
- Take time to search the Scriptures to discover what God wants from us for worship. How does worship sound? What does it look like? How does it feel? What is the overall intent of a worship service? How do you prepare yourself for worship?
Merle Poirier writes from Silver Spring, Maryland, where she works as the operation manager for Adventist Review and Adventist World magazines as well as the designer for KidsView, a magazine for 8-12-year-olds. She enjoys spending time with her family including being the grandmother of two active little boys, who greatly enjoy Starting With Jesus.