January 21-February 4, our worship continues following our Church School curriculum from the autumn, Seeking Peace Together, as we learn in worship alongside the youngest members of our community.
This Sunday, we pick up where our Church School curriculum left off in November, pre-Advent and Christmastide.
And we start back in with a radical concept of wartime hospitality and a doozy of a biblical story to ground us (2 Kings 6:8-23). The story is so strange to our modern sensibility, that it comes across like creatively re-imagined history, with a whole lot magical realism thrown in.
And yet, as we read about wars and rumors of wars every day in the news, it’s worth teasing our imaginations with this story centuries later.
Sometime around 874 BCE, the Aramaeans and the Israelites were in armed conflict. The prophet Elisha was an advisor to the King of Israel and in one particular battle, he was able to invoke God’s power to create the illusion of more soldiers and “chariots of fire” and temporarily blind the enemy. At the end of this fantastical wartime strategizing, their Aramaean enemies were ripe for capture. Instead, Elisha advised the Israelites to provide a meal for their enemies. It ended the war.
I’m still trying to understand the story.
But what strikes me the most is that Elisha, speaking and acting on behalf of God during wartime, shows a different way than of engaging with the enemy than we would normally expect. A way of hospitality, shared humanity and shared basic needs. What does it mean about how you and I deal with any of our enemies — real or perceived?
Come Sunday and together we’ll dig into this alternative, Godly way of being.
Image credit: Volunteers provide food to refugees from Ukraine at the Warsaw Central train station in Warsaw on March 7. (Pawel Supernak/EPA-EFE/REX/Shutterstock)