"Have you ever seen the rain?"
And no. The title of my sermon is not about the 1970s hit by the same name by Credence Clearwater Revival. But if you stay put, I’ll hope that I will be able to make the connection. Bear with me!
In the Old Testament there is a story about the prophet Elijah. And, yes, it is about rain! (1 Kings 18)
Once upon a time there was a drought in the land of Israel. After King Ahab’s reliance on a local god of rain came to naught, and that the worship of false gods was terminated, it was time for rain.
Now, it hadn’t rained for over three years. Yet, without any other sign from heaven, Elijah tells the king that he can hear a mighty rainstorm coming! As we know, however, there was not a single cloud in the sky. In other words, seemingly nothing had changed.
The story goes on. Elijah went up to Mt. Carmel, where he began to pray in earnest. And as he prayed, from time to time he would ask his servant to check out the sky. Six times he looked, and there was not a single cloud. And so, Elijah kept praying. But suddenly, the servant cried, “Master! I can see a cloud over the sea! It is not much, like the size of my hand. But there she is!
Immediately, Elijah ordered his servant to tell the king to rush back home. A huge downpour would come, and so he would not be able to make it safely home. And, as the story tells us, it rained. A lot!
A small cloud, far, far away. No bigger than a small hand. But it was a signal that showers of blessings were on the way. One small signal pointing to a much larger reality.
The story reminds me of the power of the Sacraments. We receive just a tiny morsel of bread and a small sip of wine. Small tokens. Yet like the small cloud, they point out to the far larger reality of Jesus Christ, the Risen Lord, present with us and in us.
I love that in some churches they have a small hanging oil lamp or candle to help the people to remember the presence of the Lord in the sanctuary. Just the small lamp is transformative, believe me.
In the same way, today’s gospel tells us about Thomas.
It is interesting to note that when Thomas came face to face with Jesus, there was no need for Jesus to make a huge miracle. There was no need to transform water into wine, calm the storm, or heal another blind man.
Jesus just pointed out to the small signals that He carried over from the Cross. The holes in His hands, and the wound in his side. Small signs that pointed to the much larger reality of the Risen Lord.
Small things that somehow point to larger realities. This is what St David practiced and taught. Minding the small things is the holy wisdom that St. David commended.
As Fr. Matthew Stewart, rector of Church of the Holy Spirit in Fall River, Massachusetts writes, “For people of faith, every moment is an opportunity to serve God and to meet God. Whether our ‘little things’ happen in kitchens, cubicles or classrooms, every instant of our lives is an opportunity to be drawn closer to the God who loves us so deeply.”
Or as Pastor Scott Hubbard puts it, “For all of his bigness, our God has a remarkable love for the small.”
But, as we know, minding the small things is more than doing. The Scriptures reminds us that faith as big as a mustard seed can move mountains. And as the story from Elijah points out, seeing the hand of God in the small things was as important as in destroying the big altars of false gods.
A small cloud was not only about the big downpour soon to arrive, but to discover God in the midst of our circumstances – large or small.
But even if we accept and trust God’s love for the small things in life, yet God’s promises are not about keeping small things small. God has a vision and a promise for rivers in the desert, lands with abundant crops, and a church that would reach from eternity to eternity.
The Gospel teaches us that Jesus appointed twelve disciples to follow and to learn from Him. But Jesus’ vision was far larger than his small band of followers. In fact, Jesus commanded them to go and reach out to all nations and all peoples, helping them to become our Lord’s followers and then, commissioning them to do as they did – until the end of time!
I know that you are excited about last Sunday, aren’t you?
Let me suggest that last Sunday was just a small cloud. Let me tell you that I can hear the sound of great showers of blessings. As the old spiritual encourages us, it will be “Soon and very soon.” And, let us recall what God’s very own encouragement, “It is by my Spirit.”
Let me close with these words from Pastor Hubbard,
Pray “for the big, long for the big, and work for the big — all while faithfully and contentedly devoting ourselves to the small. Pray for revival, and then prepare breakfast for the kids. Dream of the knowledge of God’s glory flooding the earth, and then bring a taste of that glory to the neighbor next door. Preach a grand vision to dozens or hundreds on Sunday, and then sit and listen to the wounded one on Monday.
“The day of big things is coming. Until then, do not neglect the day of small things.”
But still long and pray for a day of greater blessings – The day of showers of blessings.
Have you ever seen the rain,
Comin’ down on a sunny day?