1 Kings 17:1-16
Now Elijah the Tishbite, of Tishbe in Gilead, said to Ahab, ‘As the Lord the God of Israel lives, before whom I stand, there shall be neither dew nor rain these years, except by my word.’ The word of the Lord came to him, saying, ‘Go from here and turn eastwards, and hide yourself by the Wadi Cherith, which is east of the Jordan. You shall drink from the wadi, and I have commanded the ravens to feed you there.’ So he went and did according to the word of the Lord; he went and lived by the Wadi Cherith, which is east of the Jordan. The ravens brought him bread and meat in the morning, and bread and meat in the evening; and he drank from the wadi. But after a while the wadi dried up, because there was no rain in the land.
The Widow of Zarephath
Then the word of the Lord came to him, saying, ‘Go now to Zarephath, which belongs to Sidon, and live there; for I have commanded a widow there to feed you.’ So he set out and went to Zarephath. When he came to the gate of the town, a widow was there gathering sticks; he called to her and said, ‘Bring me a little water in a vessel, so that I may drink.’ As she was going to bring it, he called to her and said, ‘Bring me a morsel of bread in your hand.’ But she said, ‘As the Lord your God lives, I have nothing baked, only a handful of meal in a jar, and a little oil in a jug; I am now gathering a couple of sticks, so that I may go home and prepare it for myself and my son, that we may eat it, and die.’ Elijah said to her, ‘Do not be afraid; go and do as you have said; but first make me a little cake of it and bring it to me, and afterwards make something for yourself and your son. For thus says the Lord the God of Israel: The jar of meal will not be emptied and the jug of oil will not fail until the day that the Lord sends rain on the earth.’ She went and did as Elijah said, so that she as well as he and her household ate for many days. The jar of meal was not emptied, neither did the jug of oil fail, according to the word of the Lord that he spoke by Elijah.
Reflection by Janet Derby
My grandson loves popsicles. The other day, as he was pulling two more out of the freezer, his mom informed him that she wasn’t buying another box until the weekend. He became indignant at the idea that he would have to ration that box of 20 popsicles over an entire week. It seemed like child abuse to him. Truly a first world problem. Most of us have no understanding of what real poverty and scarcity is. On the contrary, the widow in this story understands it all too well. I would imagine that her reaction to Elijah’s request, calm as it seems here, was one of incredulity. Yet, she did as Elijah asked. Perhaps she had great faith in his promise that the meal and oil would not fail. Or it may have been a situation where she simply was taking a chance on anything that might save them.
Recently, I visited Ellis Island and was amazed at the number of people who chose to leave their home with few possessions and risk travelling and settling in a new land. It made me wonder what would motivate me to do the same. It’s difficult to imagine that scenario, but I do believe that there are times in most of our lives where we feel desperate and helpless. At those times, we, like the widow, must rely on God to provide the answers. This week, as we celebrate World Communion Sunday, we will be reminded of the plentiful gifts of God’s creation. May it remind us that we are here to share those blessings with others.
God of Abundance, thank you for being with us in our times of need. Help us to trust that you will provide for us. Amen.