Sunday, August 10, 2008

the still, small voice

It's interesting to me that none of the sermons I have heard or read online for today have dwelled upon today's first reading in the Revised Common Lectionary.

Which is not to say they didn't do a fine job with the powerful Gospel story and in some cases (a friend who read me parts of her sermon last night from North of Boston) with that story plus the final sentence from Paul about the beautiful feet of those who bear good news. (Echoes of Christmas...) No one I know tackled Romans, a lot of which (thank you, Krister Stendahl) is Paul's theological meditation about what happens to Israel --i.e. Jews and Christians and their relationship-- in the new dispensation.

I know, there was another option in the lectionary, another compelling story from Genesis. Kevin picked the I Kings option for us at St. Mary's.

I wasn't preaching today and I probably wouldn't have been able to resist the Gospel if I had preached, but I do love the stories of Elijah and in particular the passage we knew as young 'uns as the "still, small voice" passage and we now hear in the lectionary as "a sound of sheer silence."

I'm not going to write an essay on this passage, but I want to share with you a beautiful translation of it by Rabbi Larry Kushner. (Not to be confused with Rabbi Harold Kushner.) It's from his book The Book of Words. I quote it in When in Doubt, Sing. (About which I will post a shameless plug in the next couple of weeks. But I digress.) I find it a delicate and inspiring gateway to prayer, or just to slowing down and watching my breath. And listening.

And lo, the Lord passed by. There was
a great and mighty wind; splitting mountains
and shattering rocks by the power of the
Lord; but the Lord was not in the wind.
After the wind, an earthquake; but
the Lord was not in the earthquake.
After the earthquake, fire: but the Lord
was not in the fire. And after the fire,
the soft barely audible sound of
almost breathing.

****** I Kings 19:11-12

Note: This translation and two other biblical quotes are part of a longer excerpt from Rabbi Kushner's book at the end of Chapter Four of When in Doubt, Sing. I'll post the longer passage sometime. It is about breathing and the Name of God (HaShem).

1 comment:

FranIAm said...

Oh Jane - I love that. Those words. This is one of my favorite readings.