Given its scriptural context, my sermon on Sunday focused on the eyes. “Where have you seen God today?” was the recurring question, and it is, I believe, an important one. This is not to say, however, that God is not made manifest through our other senses as well. In fact, Sunday’s Track Two Old Testament lesson comes at the tail end of a story that all about how God makes himself known in unexpected ways.
If you didn’t click the link to read the lesson, I’ll remind you that it is the story of Elijah’s flight to Mount Horeb. After Ahab married Jezebel and worships her God, Baal, the Lord God of Israel withheld rain from the land for three years. So it begins with God being manifest in the parched tongues of the thirsty and the empty bellies of the hungry. Over and against Baal, the god of the storm, Elijah’s God is fully in control of sun and rain, ground and harvest, and even life and death. Elijah, following the command, that is the voice, of God, departs for Zarephath where he is to find a widow who will care for him. Here again, God is made known in water, oil, and flour, even the very taste of bread upon the lips of Elijah, the widow, and her son.
As the story unfolds, Elijah ends up in a spiritual battle with the priests of Baal over who’s god can bring fire to the earth. God’s power is is made manifest in fire that consumes damp wood, stones, dust, and even water. God was felt in the heat of the flames, and the smell of burnt wood. For the priests of Baal, the impotence of their god was known in the pain of their wounds as they tried to appease Baal with a sacrifice of their own blood. After that amazing and ridiculous story, Elijah once again leaves town for safer quarters, and our lesson opens with Elijah hiding for safety atop Mount Horeb. There God isn’t in the earthquake or the rock-splitting wind, or even the fire, as before. Instead, God makes himself known to Elijah in the still, small voice.
God is willing to find us by any means necessary. Through sight, taste, touch, smell, and hearing, God calls us each in our own way.