Dear Fellowship Family,
One of the few negatives of always working weekends, especially when your mate works weekdays, is trying to find a time to squeeze in a date weekend. So a few years back, well, probably many years back, a friend (okay, Tod) was able to secure me a comped condo for a early, cold February weekend so that I could surprise Rhonda with a date weekend. I borrowed a bunch of candles from the church, bought a few dozen roses and rose petals and, with the help of a dear sister (Patti Cline), attempted to create the most romantically intimate environment possible. I think I told Rhonda just to pack a bag. She had no idea where we were going.
When we arrived at our surprise location, Rhonda was greeted with a rose petal- strewn path into a candle-lit, serenaded paradise. It was a sight to behold (thanks, Patti).
Why did I go to such lengths? I wanted to honor my beloved, by attempting to create a romantically, intimate environment. I think she got the message.
This was also the weekend that in the midst of a snowstorm, Rhonda introduced me to the ultimate all-time chic chick flick…the entire six-hour 1995 BBC Jane Austen “Pride and Prejudice” miniseries. In fact, after watching it into the early dawn, I decided NOT to make a 6-hour trek through a blizzard to Northwest Arkansas to watch my beloved Razorbacks upset what turned out to be eventual college basketball national champions that year, the Florida Gators (and for any of you wondering why I had scheduled both events for the same weekend. I hadn’t. A couple which I married the previous year had surprised me with the tickets).
And I must confess, despite my best intentions for that weekend, I was still intent on trying to accomplish both, even if it meant a six hour drive through a blizzard, and my precious wife, bless her heart, would have accommodated my crazy pursuit of college basketball Nirvana. After all, it was OUR weekend.
But fortunately reason or something (the Spirit perhaps) prevailed and instead, I experienced a memorably, romantic and exclusive weekend with my wife, as well as, becoming exposed to something I would have never chosen to experience in my wildest masculine, or perhaps feminine, imagination—how really good writers, even female writers, such as Austen, are able to subtly capture with pen on paper, the daily realities of real people’s feelings, thoughts, emotions and desires and then to turn those intriguing realities into captivating narratives that speak to the hearts, minds and dreams of all peoples, including my wife.
What’s my story’s point? I can’t promise you a Spiritually-charged or intimate moment with God’s Spirit during this Sunday’s “Elijah worship,” but with the help of my friends, we will attempt to create a moment in which it is possible.
Elijah the Tishbite, the only other man in the Bible, besides Enoch, who did NOT die, but instead was taken up into heaven, was, seemingly, an unassuming 9th century BC Hebrew prophet who, because of his courage in calling out the moral and Spiritual darkness of his times, including the wickedness of King Ahab, Ahab’s evil wife, Jezebel, and Jezebel’s many false prophets of the fertility and storm god, Baal, was suddenly thrust onto one of the great Spiritual stages of all time—a stage in which Elijah, alone with Yah, must now compete with almost a thousand false prophets for the affections of God’s wayward people. Who is the true God? The one Creator God, Yah, who had both previously created and then rescued his people, Israel, from their Egyptian servitude and had placed them within their Promised Land or the impotent Baal who was now presiding over a three year drought that had transformed the Promise Land into a barren wilderness?
Before the electric moment of truth, the Scriptures records that Elijah, whose name means “Yah is MY God,” cried out to the people, “How long are you going to limp around on two crutches? If Yah is the true God, then walk after Him, but if Baal is, then walk after him.”
Strangely, Scripture says that the people said: “NOT A WORD” (1 Kings 18:21).
Where they in fear of Ahab and Jezebel or which way the mob or culture’s proverbial moral or religious winds were blowing at the moment? Did their silence hedge their bets? I am not sure. I just know that because of the faithful actions of ONE MAN, the glory of God broke through Israel’s darkness and the rains finally came.
I want to celebrate, recreate, observe…honor that moment. That despite how dark the land, times or culture may become, it only takes ONE for Yah to reveal his powerful light through.
Will God bless us? I don’t know. That’s his prerogative and for his purposes.
I just want to declare LIGHT or TRUTH in the dark!
Let us NOT NOT be silent! Let us testify with our prayers, our hearts, minds, gifts, presence, words, songs, voices, confessions, attention and his truth that Yah truly is God, regardless of the times, regardless of the culture, regardless of a king’s or nation’s false religiosity, regardless of a growing moral and Spiritual darkness within the land or regardless of a nation’s Spiritual, moral and economic drought.
I want to declare truth. Will you declare light and truth with me…with us? Will you be a part of this possibly Spiritually-electric, romantic, intimate, enlightening, exclusive moment?
And as preparation for this moment and as no doubt there were many both fasting and praying on behalf of Elijah’s cutting-edge moment, though he felt alone (I Kings 18:22), because as Yah later informs Elijah, “I have kept in Israel seven thousand, all the knees that have NOT bowed to Baal, and all the mouths that have NOT kissed him” (1 Kings 19:18), I too am asking anyone who feels inspired ahead of time to consecrate our sacred moment in prayer, or perhaps, even fasting and praying, and even if only for one meal or a few precious moments, PLEASE DO SO, by all means! Pray that Yah-God will jealously guard our attempt at a Spiritually romantic with his Spirit with a high wall or hedge of his protection.
We plan to offer a nursery plus perhaps for any fidgety children and babies, but remember this is for ALL ages. This is a truth that will be testified to by the dramatic retelling of an ancient living story through prayer, Scripture, music and song, thus it is our hope that it does capture thoughts and sooth anxious hearts. And if anyone feels called of God to sacrificially serve our children in this capacity, please feel free to let B or me know before Sunday.
I look forward to sharing a Spiritually romantic moment with you with our LORD!
Joseph M. Cross