When Elijah meets the widow of Zarephaph, as the story is told to us in First Kings, he asks to be fed from the very last of her stores. She explains to him that she’s gathering wood for the fire she’ll make to cook the last meal she expects to eat before she and her son die of starvation. Still, he asks her to make him some bread.
Even though Elijah promises that she won’t run out of flour and oil, how can she know this is true? The first miracle of the story is that she shares the very last that she has with this entitled man who is asking for food and drink. In my opinion it overshadows the other miracles that follow – the never-empty jugs of oil and flour – because for the first miracle to be effective, the widow must first make the most daring risk.
I see this miracle replayed often in the Church. When faced with diminished resources, I have witnessed congregations get creative, roll up their sleeves, and find ways to engage their mission. In situations where old models were failing to attract new energy, I have seen members volunteer their ideas, their wisdom, to help a congregation move beyond its capacity. I have seen vestries take risks in order to extend more services, more ministry in their communities, even if the path to staffing or funding it wasn’t immediately clear.
In every one of these circumstances, miracles were present, because in every one of these circumstances there was more than enough. More than enough people to do the work, more than enough money to cover the costs, more than enough creativity to carry the project forward. Even when we feel depleted, there is more than enough.
August Reflection: Conjuring Momentum in Slowness Click Here
September 11 Reflection: Precious Things Click Here