This past Friday night we had two huge and powerful thunderstorms come through. The radar was RED, the trees outside were bent almost to 45 degrees, and the lightning and thunder continued for hours. There were reports of tornado sirens (but no tornadoes) and of hail the size of a quarter.
Also over the weekend I was contemplating 1 Kings 19, where Elijah experiences a storm (wind, earthquake, fire), followed by silence. He's also experiencing a political/religious storm, of course. Not to mention his internal storm!
Three years ago I preached on this text and opened with "it was a dark and stormy night, both inside and outside Elijah." Then this year, when it was actually a dark and stormy night outside, I decided I couldn't reuse the line...too bad. (The Glee illustration worked just as well!)
The internal storms are harder to talk about--this is the stuff of novels and TV dramas. We all have them, and each person's storm is different. I think I pretty well covered that in the sermon below this post (not that I was intentionally identifying with Elijah...it just sort of happened!) I think the interesting part is that the silence, the calm, comes after the storm, not before. Usually we talk about "the calm before the storm" and mean that eerie silence when birds stop singing and there's not even a hint of breeze...the calm that means something bad is coming. But this calm after the storm is...well, hopefully is not just the calm before the next storm! It's somehow qualitatively different. It feels different, more...calm, I suppose, less anxious/filled-with-foreboding.
Sometimes the summer is the calm (both before and after the storm!) season for pastors, especially those of us who work primarily with programs. Programs tend to break in the summer, at least a little bit. It's a time to both take a breath and to look ahead, to plan. At this moment in our congregation's life, and in my life as the Associate Pastor of a congregation that is without a head of staff, we're doing more breathing and less planning...hoping to be in that lull that means that the worst is over and something good is coming.
Elijah left the mountain after the storm and found himself in a partnership with someone new. I'm hoping the same will be true for us--it's so much easier to face the next storm with a colleague by your side.
(send some good vibes our way, would you? we've been waiting for the Spirit for a long time on this one, so if we could just remind her that we're still waiting....LOL!)