The lectionary loves to take biblical texts that share some things in common and then watch as worlds collide once differences come to light. This week’s comparison-contrast of call stories is a perfect case in point. The story in 1 Kings 19 comes directly from God’s lips to Elijah’s ears and from there to Elisha’s shoulders. Elijah has taken refuge in a cave on Mount Horeb, the same mountain, elsewhere known as Sinai, upon whose height Moses received the tablets of the Law. Told to confront the Almighty on sacred territory, the prophet takes his life in his hands as the Lord “passes by.”
In a famous sequence of wind, earthquake and fire, the noise of theophany is overwhelming; but it is only with the stunning quiet of the aftermath that the Lord speaks to Elijah in the “sound of sheer silence.” Anoint Elisha, says the “still small voice,” for he will take your place as the prophet of the Lord.