In the hot, "lazy" days of July and August-maybe just when we're ready for that vacation-God lets us know that there is no "down time" where faith is concerned. Our summer lectionary is a short course in the prophets: Elijah and Elisha, Amos and Hosea, Isaiah and Jeremiah all appear, speaking with clarity and force about the demands of faithfulness. Above all, they sound a clarion call for justice.
Our gospel lessons are drawn from Luke, who had his own preoccupation with the sufferings of the poor. His summons to compassion and simplicity is complemented with the beautiful images of restoration and joy found in the Psalms. The texts are rounded out with the cosmic, poetic invitations to faith and freedom that dance through the Epistles.
Summer is a bold season. Though we may long mostly to retreat to the shade with a tall glass of lemonade and a good book, it's a time to plunge into deep waters and attack life with gusto. But if you must lose yourself in a book, try the Bible. These texts are as likely to refresh as to challenge.
July 2: No Turning Back
Psalm 77:1-2, 11-20, 2 Kings 2:1-2, 6-14, Galatians 5:1, 13-25. Luke 9:51-62
In today's Old Testament passage, the prophet Elijah dramatically rolls up his mantle and strikes water. The water parts, and he and Elisha cross on dry ground in their own miniversion of the Exodus. Then come the chariot and horses of fire to sweep Elijah in a whirlwind to heaven. What power and mystery we find in today's scriptures!-a God in marked contrast to the God of the still, small voice who visited Elijah at the entrance of the cave (1 Kings 19:12-13).
Trembling deep, thundering skies, lightning and whirlwind-creation on a rampage! God takes his people by the hand and leads them through the travail to freedom. God is ever-present, but unseen-invisible, except for her works. She leaves no footprints on the path through the sea, as the psalmist tells us so poetically.