Serving the Extraordinary God
1 Kings 19:9b-15
Motto Text sermon
We will have the initial letters E and G as our companions on this sermon journey.
I find the word ‘extraordinary’ interesting. It is less than unique. Unique is one-off. It is out-of-the-ordinary.
God’s actions are extraordinary because they break the normal rules of stuff that happens. But they are not one-off. One title I thought about for this sermon was ‘Making the extraordinary ordinary’.
The interesting thing about the short passage in Acts 19 from which we get our motto text is that the word extraordinary is used to describe miracles. God did extraordinary miracles through Paul. There have always been miracles – in Jesus they become common and in his first followers a bit special.
I want to dwell on that idea of extraordinary as out of the ordinary and in fact turn it round a bit. In our reading Elijah has certain expectations of God. If it’s God, we can almost hear him thinking, he must be extraordinary. But God isn’t heard in the power of the earthquake or wind. He is a still small voice. But Elijah is in no doubt who has spoken.
But I don’t want to get ahead of myself. Let us go back with Elijah to the incident that had put him in the position of waiting for an earthquake.
Defeated prophets of Baal.
Elijah’s God – taunting, sarcastic, extreme – whatever we think of Elijah’s understanding that God’s opponents must be put to death we cannot doubt that being a prophet of the living God has been demanding and draining.
Easy going? No.
He is drained. He has been ‘very zealous’. He feels he is the only one left. God’s respite care for tired followers is to rest and eat. Twice.
If you are tired because you have been very zealous for God, take time off. Come to church to be encouraged and to share and be prayed for. Don’t deprive others of your presence or need to encourage one another. But take a rest. We can fill the gap. Eat properly. Sleep properly. Exercise properly. So you can come back and serve properly. Serve the extraordinary God.
Go again Elijah.
My first vision for here back in 2007 was of a church full of exhausted people who needed a break. It may be true again.
Then Elijah is in a position to hear God, who announces that he is about to pass by.
Earthquake God? No. Not in this instance
In 2009 a vision was put on the lips of a loud man here who had many ideas and shared them all. But this one struck me immediately as a word from the Lord. It was in the earthquake. Move schools.
In 2012 a vision was put on the lips of a quiet woman. It was a whisper. We obeyed it and it was right. Pray for more Christian to join our mission. We need help.
In 2014 we declared a year of vision from which we worked out to seek independence and plant our Backwell Congregation. It was a corporate seeking and calling on the Lord.
You can bet that I am now listening for the small voice.
So if you will forgive me this once bouncing off the passage more than expounding it, what does the Lord require of us? What are our instructions?
When the prophets ask this question they are always reminded to act justly and love mercy. This won’t change.
Expect to continue supporting mission partners who serve the poor. My offertory prayer regularly reminds us that this money goes where we cannot go and reaches those we cannot reach.
Being welcoming and hospitable won’t change.
Someone here once said to me ‘I love it when people come who are not like us.’ Do we all?
So here is a list of EGs to ponder:
As a result of which:
I hope these will lead into our year. In the second half we will be taking time again to look at vision.
It is extraordinary what God had done here since 1989. This is what a church looks like. Organised and chaotic. Planned and open to the Spirit. Dreaming and doing. Tired and enthusiastic. Let us all pray that God will show us our place in his future here.