by Katherine Baker
Debra Rienstra is away today. We welcome Katherine Lee Baker to The Twelve. She is the minister for lifelong learning and discipleship at Central Reformed Church, in Grand Rapids, Michigan. She is most passionate about adoptive faith, feminist and womanist theology, and community engagement, as well as trolling Twitter and online shopping. Follow her @revkatiebaker
Ahab said, “Have you found me, O my enemy?”
Elijah answered, “I have found you. Because you have sold yourself to do what is evil in the sight of the Lord, I will bring disaster on you.” 1 Kings 21:20
I love the lectionary. I like the organization the lectionary provides – neatly arranging our selected pericopes. I like the historicity the lectionary provides – grounding us to our roots and our spiritual feasts. And I like the fellowship the lectionary provides – uniting us with fellow believers around the world (as well as connecting us who frantically search for worship or preaching resources week to week). It’s fact: I love the lectionary!
And, these days, I think we could all use a little lectionary in our lives. Something that we can count on, something that is longstanding, and something that brings us together: familiar stories, ironic parables, familial prayers, and iconic letters. Because, the lectionary, these days, reminds us that God is ever in control, binding things back together again, and sending us forth in peace and hope.
The lectionary for tomorrow I found particularly timely.
Included in Year C Proper 6 happens to be the gruesomely crooked story from 1 Kings 21: “Naboth and his Vineyard” (a.k.a.: Ahab and Power-hungry Jezebel vs. Elijah and the Bloodthirsty Dogs). In summary, Ahab tries to purchase from Naboth that which is priceless and when Naboth refuses to sell, Ahab resorts to systemic corruption with the help of Jezebel who drives his agenda forward with violence and lies. After all is said and Naboth is dead, Elijah is sent with a message from God to rebuke Ahab that greevil (a.k.a.: greed and evil) never has the final word because the Word of God always triumphs!
The passage is befitting as I reflect honestly about my anxieties and angst concerning this election year. And (Lord, help us), I am not simply referring to “making America great again” and “doing the most good” but even more to the actual theme of election, which runs rampant – especially this year!
It’s concerning to me that there are so many squabbles within our communities of faith about whom God has chosen, loved, and empowered. There are so many divisions about whose nomination God shall endorse for office – who shall serve as Minister of Word and Sacrament, as Elder or Deacon, or lay leader? There are so many fears about purity and sanctity – whose baptism shall we recognize and were the holy waters of baptism not quite cleansing enough? There are so many grievances about what might need to happen next or how we might need to change – all because we want what we believe was promised to us, only to realize that it might not be granted as such. It’s all so concerning, but it’s all so familiar.
In the passage from 1 Kings 21, we see what happens when decision-makers don’t take into consideration the process and consequences of their decision-making. We also hear the assurance from God that God avenges those who have been wrongly punished by systemic corruption – even if our scripture lesson ends before the story is complete. God brings justice even when all seems lost.
When I get anxious about the ongoings that go on without me or angsty about the systemic corruption that terrorizes our world, I’m reminded that God never permits greevil to have the final say because the Word of God always triumphs! There is only one election that has ever truly mattered and that is Jesus Christ elected by God to the office of Prophet, Priest and King. Christ finds those who have sold themselves to wrongdoing and pronounces judgment. Christ intercedes for those who are victims and offers his blood in place of their own. Christ reigns as perfect authority in heaven and on earth – establishing a new order never to be bought or defiled.
Leaders, qualifications, and agendas will come and go, but Christ is Lord forever – even to the end of the age. These days, this is gospel hope and peace: Jesus is all that we can depend on, all that is eternal, and all that brings us together! Christ provides us with good news, powerful truth, meaningful relationships, and sustaining life.
While this election year seems all too familiar and concerning, and it seems as if this could truly be our end – may we remember that the story is not yet complete until the Good News has been proclaimed. Amen.