Tuesday, June 07, 2016

1 Kings 21:1-21a

Year C - Pentecost+4 or Community Practice+4
June 12, 2016


When was the last time a king wanted someone’s vineyard to turn it into a vegetable garden? I don’t know of anyone who has suggested that Ahab was vegan. Ordinarily we would expect a king to commandeer any number of humble gardens to be torn up for the production of an award-winning wine.

This is a fine lead into yet another reversal wherein Ahab is undone and all his feasts will be consumed by others. It is important to hear this all the way to the end of verse 21 and not stop with a generalized judgment.

For all those in and out of pulpits—be sure to emphasize verses 20-21. This is the prelude to redemptive preaching—finally, nothing is hidden. May the confession shared on Sunday be recognizable in the real world of Monday through Saturday. Confessional code-language is not confessional.

Ahab sounds surprised, “So you’ve found me, my old enemy!” Yes, a sharp eye finds us where we thought we were safe. All the parsing and excusing we have done has come to naught. We have been found out and there is no escape; no grading on a curve; no do-overs.

No matter how well we think we have covered our tracks, we are the reason we were found. Our elan vital has been encumbered by our very attempts to guarantee our importance and success (idolatry) and we have no more energy to take another step. We are at the end of our rope and we know it. Whether we are caught with an evil evil, or karma has burst upon us, or we’ve lost our compassion and don’t know where to find it, we and our descendants are out of luck.

Ahab and those associated with him will not know what hit them.

And, yet, reversals are not done. When we read a bit further we find Ahab appearing as a traditional penitent. The very threat and judgment made against Ahab is delayed. Its a wonder that Elijah doesn’t pull a Jonah and become angry at G*D’s seeming mercy even after pronouncing doom.

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How do you compare the woman in Luke and Ahab here? Do these stories lead to different or similar forgiveness? Just be careful here, for as you respond you will then have to enter a third comparison with yourself added in. Does this addition change your assessment of forgiveness?


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