Written by Steven Liechty
Quinn G. Caldwell
"For thus says the Lord, the God of Israel…" - 1 Kings 17:8-16
What would it take for you to believe in somebody else's god? What would it take for you to at least listen to what they have to say?
Elijah heads to foreign territory, where they worship a different god. There he meets up with a widow and tells her about his god. She doesn't end up converting to his religion, but does recognize that Elijah has said some true things about the world and about God.
You already know that interfaith dialogue can teach you true things, right? Well, hanging out with the Muslim or Wiccan next door is one thing, but I think it's a lot harder to talk with people who are part of my religion but who think about it very differently than I do. I'm not talking about Presbyterians or Methodists here; I mean Pentecostals, I mean fundamentalists, I mean conservative Evangelicals, I mean whatever it is that you would define as the opposite of you. In many ways, it's easier to talk with people who are very different than it is to talk with ones who are sort of similar—but that doesn't mean they can't have something true to teach you about God.
I'm not saying you need to convert or anything (the widow didn't); I'm just saying that God sends Elijahs to tell us about God all the time, and that sometimes, they come from the unlikeliest of places.
God, when you send a messenger to teach me about you, give me the grace to listen, regardless of whether she's one of us or one of them. Amen.
Quinn G. Caldwell is Pastor and Teacher at Plymouth Congregational Church, UCC, in Syracuse, New York, and co-editor, with Curtis J. Preston, of the Unofficial Handbook of the United Church of Christ, published by The Pilgrim Press.