I Kings 19:1-15aÂ – The 5th Sunday of Ordinary time â€“ for Sunday, June 23, 2013
â€œâ€¦I alone am left, and they are seeking my life, to take it away.â€ (I Kings 19:10)
I rarely claim this, but I prefer the King James Version (KJV) to the New Revised Standard Version (NRSV) passage for reading, praying and thinking about I Kings 19. Here, the Bible described Elijahâ€™s encounter on Mt. Horeb with the Lord in verse 12 . . .
The KJVâ€”and after the earthquake a fire; but the Lord was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice.
The RVSVâ€”and after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire; and after the fire a sound of sheer silence.
I know why. Itâ€™s for the same reason I prefer the KJVâ€™s Psalm 23 to other translations or interpretations:Â a singular phrase. For the ubiquitous Psalm verse, the KJVâ€™s, â€œI walk through the valley of the shadow of death . . .â€ inspires me more than the NRSVâ€™s, â€œI walk through the darkest valley . . .â€ Why? Have I heard â€œthe shadow of deathâ€ spoken in films or books that swept me away? Did the eager ears of my childhood first hear â€œshadow of deathâ€ and tucked the phrase into a central, accessible memory?
Or is it as simple as liking one phrase over another?
For me thereâ€™s a wide emotional gap between surviving a dark valley versus deathâ€™s shadow. In the hundreds of graveside services Iâ€™ve done, I believe the living sensed deathâ€™s long shadow covering every part of their being. My Dadâ€™s devilâ€™s dance with dementia seemed like life in a frightening, deathly shadow world far more than a trudge through a gloomy valley.
The feelingâ€™s the same with Elijah when comparing â€œa still small voiceâ€ to â€œsheer silence.â€ Both describe what I long for in my relationship with the Holy . . . but while I may want the NRSVâ€™s â€œsheer silenceâ€ in my life, I crave the KJVâ€™s â€œstill small voice.â€
The world is raucous. Thereâ€™s 24/7 news and the clattering chatter of email, text, Skype, Facebook, Google plus, Instagram, phones at home and work (and in our pocket or purse). There are a score more whiz-bang ways of communicating I didnâ€™t list and more ways of sharing-declaring-blaring not yet invented that will inevitably add to the thunder that undermines any â€œsheer silenceâ€ in our lives.
Oh, I can avoid all the fizzle and frazzle of the modern world by discarding or muting the electronic devices that own me, but I canâ€™t avoid the rasp of everyone elseâ€™s talking, texting and opining.
Can I escape the noise anymore? Continue reading →