Peaceful Revelations…

The Lord’s fire came down and consumed the holocaust…”
From 1 Kings 18:38

While in the Holy Land, I found myself thinking about Jesus at every turn. How could I not? Jesus had spent his entire life in the vicinity. Our visit to Mount Carmel adjusted my focus a bit. People had lived in that mountain’s caves since prehistoric times. It’s been considered a sacred place for what seems like forever. My knowledge of Mount Carmel begins with the Prophet Elijah.

The scriptures tell us that Elijah became impatient with Israel’s leadership. King Ahab married Jezebel, a Phoenician princess. Jezebel introduced Ahab and his people to her god Baal. Jezebel also saw to the murders of several prophets. As a result, the people’s ties to the God of Israel faded quickly. After much prayer, Elijah challenged the priests of Baal to build an altar and to place a sacrifice upon it. These priests were to ask Baal to light a fire to burn their offerings. Though 450 priests prayed fervently, their sacrifice remained unlit. Elijah also built an altar. He prayed that the God of Israel would set his sacrifice afire. Though Elijah had doused everything with water to prove his point, a bolt of lightning lit Elijah’s sacrifice. Elijah went on to kill those priests of Baal.

Our guide shared that this account is found in the Book of Kings, but he offered no opinion of its authenticity. Yossi is an archaeologist, not a scripture scholar. As for me, I’m no fan of bloodshed and no fan of religious intolerance. However, I do understand Elijah’s devotion to God. In this case, I hope Kings’ author adjusted these events to illustrate a point: Elijah did what he needed to do to turn his people back to their Lord.

Unlike Elijah, you and I need only to live with compassion and generosity to reveal God to others. When we love one another and behave like one family, we say all that needs to be said about God.

Loving God, help us to reveal you in all that we say and do.

©2020 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

Our Struggling Neighbors

Blessed too are the sorrowing;
they shall be consoled.

Matthew 5:4

I’ve already shared that one of the highlights of both trips to Israel was our guide Yossi. Though he repeated often that he is a secular Jew, he occasionally addressed God’s place among the Israeli people and within his own life. Yossi was raised in a socialist Kibbutz and was taught from very early on that there is no God. His and the community’s hard work for the common good were what mattered. Even after his family left that setting, he was given little reason to make room for God in his life. Though Yossi didn’t say that this was the case for himself, he shared that many of his fellow Jews look at the tragedy of the Holocaust as reason to deny God’s existence. “How can we be the Chosen People,” they ask, “when God allowed this to happen.” They conclude that there is no God.

Still, Yossi recognizes our right to relate to God, or not to do so, as we choose. Yossi certainly respected his friend Daniel Carmel’s choice to become a Messianic Jew. He also passionately read from our scriptures to highlight the numerous sites we visited. Yossi’s animated explanations of Jesus’ work implied a more than casual interest in The Man from Galilee. Then there were Yossi’s frequent requests that we pray for the people of Israel. “Pray for peace among us,” Yossi repeated. All the while, Yossi did his part to smooth relations between his countrymen. He brought us to a Palestinian restaurant, an Arab gift shop and cafe, a Catholic church and Shabbat dinner with an Orthodox Jewish family.
Regardless of the troubles which beset each group, Yossi remarked, “They are just like us. All they want is the chance to work hard and to bring home food for their families.”

Loving God, help us to do our part to achieve world peace just as Yossi does.

©2018 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

By Peaceful Means…

The Lord’s fire came down and consumed the holocaust…”
From 1 Kings 18:38

After leaving Caesarea and our stop at the Baha’i Gardens, we drove to Mount Carmel. Our guide explained that the word “Carmel” comes from two Hebrew words for “vineyard” and “God”. This mountain’s plush greenery had earned it the title of God’s vineyard. Though people had lived in the mount’s caves in prehistoric times, my knowledge of Mount Carmel begins with the Prophet Elijah.

The scriptures tell us Elijah had become impatient with Israel. Their king had married a Phoenician. The people’s religious practices and ties to the God of Israel weakened as they turned their attention to the queen’s idol Baal. Elijah responded by challenging the priests of Baal. They were to build an altar, place a sacrifice upon it and ask Baal to provide the fire to burn this offering. Though 450 priests prayed fervently, their sacrifice remained unlit. Elijah built an altar as well. He prayed that the God of Israel would set his sacrifice afire. Though Elijah had doused everything with water to make his point, a bolt of lightning ignited it. Elijah ended this encounter by slaughtering all of Baal’s priests.

Though he shared this story during my last visit to the Holy Land, our guide didn’t do so this time. Perhaps the unrest in nearby countries inspired this omission. Yossi is no fan of bloodshed; nor am I. Scripture writers sometimes adjusted settings or numbers or events to illustrate a point and this account seems to be no exception. In the end, Elijah did what he felt he needed to do to turn his people back to their Lord. Unfortunately, today’s world is unsettled by many who claim to do the same in God’s name.

I need to reveal God’s presence among us more peacefully. When I live with compassion and generosity, love my neighbors, care for them and respect them, I say best what needs to be said about our Beloved Creator.

Loving and Patient God, help us to love you and to love one another as best we can and help us to promote peace all the while.

©2018 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

In God’s Name

The Lord’s fire came down and consumed the holocaust…”
From 1 Kings 18:38

Our visit to Mount Carmel illustrated just how far into the past our trek to Israel was taking us. People had lived in its caves since prehistoric times. It has been considered a sacred place for what seems like forever. My knowledge of Mount Carmel begins with the Prophet Elijah.

The scriptures tell us that Elijah had become impatient with Israel’s leadership. King Ahab married Jezebel, a Phoenician princess who introduced Ahab and his people to her god Baal. Jezebel also saw to the murders of several prophets. Ahab and his people’s religious practices and their ties to the God of Israel faded quickly. After much reflection and prayer, Elijah responded. He challenged the priests of Baal to build an altar and to place a sacrifice upon it. These priests were to ask Baal to light the fire to burn their offerings. Though 450 priests prayed fervently, their sacrifice remained unlit. Elijah also built an altar and prayed that the God of Israel would set his sacrifice afire. Though Elijah had doused everything with water several times to prove his point, a bolt of lightning lit Elijah’s sacrifice. Elijah ended this encounter by slaughtering all of Baal’s priests.

When our guide pointed out the statue of Elijah on Mount Carmel, he added that this account is found in the Book of Kings. He offered no opinion of its authenticity as our guide is an archaeologist, not a scripture scholar. As for me, I’m no fan of bloodshed and no fan of religious intolerance. However, I do understand Elijah’s devotion to God. Scripture writers often adjusted settings or numbers or events to illustrate a point and this account seems to be no exception. Elijah did what he needed to do to turn his people back to their Lord.

Unlike poor Elijah, you and I need only to live with compassion and generosity to reveal God to others. When we love one another and behave like one family, we say all that needs to be said about God.

Loving God, help us to love one another and to allow one another to see you each in his or her own way.

©2017 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved