Sermon on 1 Kings 19:1-18

Full Text: 

(Here is part of my sermon)

Elijah was burned out! 

It’s a feeling church people can know all too well.  I’m guessing there’s even a few people here today feeling burnt out after the Bazaar yesterday.  That event is a lot of work! 

No matter what our job or tasks, we can all reach that burn out stage at some point.  It’s easy to work and work and work at something, and feel like we’re trapped in our work and can’t stop.  It’s easy to feel like our work is in vain when all our attempts don’t seem to change anything.  It’s easy for our limits to sneak up on us. 

Elijah had a tough job.  He was a prophet, and a prophet is someone who speaks for God.  In Elijah’s case, speaking for God meant speaking truth to power.  King Ahab and Queen Jezebel were abusing their power, and Elijah called them on it.  And, since this is an ancient Bible story, Elijah did it in dramatic fashion.  He announced a drought in hopes the corrupt king would see the light and change his ways.  During the drought, he provided food and healing for a foreign widow and her son.  Some time later he had a show down with the priests of Baal, a rival god who the queen worshiped.  Elijah proved victorious, and then went overboard and killed all the priests of Baal.  I like to think this might have been a symptom of burnout.  Understandably, Queen Jezebel was outraged and determined to kill Elijah.  So, Elijah ran. 

Burn-out can be dangerous.  Burn-out has a way of sneaking up on us.  It makes us feel alone, and like no one understands.  It makes us feel like we’re the only ones doing anything.  It makes us feel like all our tireless efforts have earned us the right to lash out.  Burn-out wears us down and overwhelms.  It really brings out the worst in us. 

Today we celebrate All Saints Sunday.  We like to think of saints as holy people who never do anything wrong, but saints are just people who seek to follow God.  One of my favorite teachings of Luther is that we are saints and sinners at the same time.  Throughout the Bible and throughout history, God has been working through imperfect people. 

I am convinced that the life of a saint means hitting a wall at some point.  Even Mother Teresa, the saintliest person we can think of, even she had times when she felt a profound absence of God.  At some point, we all hit burn-out.  Just like Elijah in this story. 

And just like Elijah, we need those times to retreat—ideally before we hit the dangerous levels of burn-out.  We need distance to re-orient our perspective on things.  We need to find nourishment for our souls.  We need to get away from the distractions.  When we hit those walls, God is there to meet us and lead us to a renewed sense of purpose. 

What restores your soul?  What helps you hear God? 

Our Renewal Team is setting an example for this…

 

 

Silent/listen exercise…