1Kings Chapter 17:5-9
It is does not matter who you are or what your station in life at some point your "brook" will dry up. Life has unfortunately been designed with a peculiar cosmic chaotic character, yet
divine construction that guarantees:
a moment of drought;
a minute of famine;
an instant of insufficiency;
and an occasion of lack.
There will be a moment when the reservoir of your sustenance will be drained of all its vitality. The "Brook will dry up."
Jobs will disappear.
Businesses will close.
Marriages will shatter.
Relationships will explode.
And communities will devolve.
Anything we hold that is temporal whether person or position will dry up. The physical bodies we occupy currently display a degree of vitality, but in the words my Grandmother "if you keep on living" the "brook" will dry up.
The text before us is the early chapter of Elijah's emerging ministry. There is no pre-announcement, nor are we privy to childhood tales of his future greatness. He explodes upon the text with dramatic urgency. His ministry is shaped by the social and political culture defined by the Hebrew King Ahab. Ahab after his marriage to an Afro-Phoenician woman by the name of Jezebel begins to institute policies outside the Israelite tradition to curry favor with his trade partners and Phoenician political supporters. Ahab puts in place religious and economic "executive orders" designed to benefit a small minority. The hard right turn of the nation threatens the economic stability and spiritual growth of this emerging country. What is powerful in the text is the juxtaposition of Ahab's self-centered political decisions with the egalitarian ministry of Elijah. Elijah shows up on the scene as a prophetic agent to communicate to the powerful the destructive tendencies of the current political climate. Elijah spends the beginning portion of his ministry in a small underdeveloped area called a Kerith Ravine. It is this underdeveloped area he discovers God's work and expands his understanding of his call to ministry.
Upon leaving his first ministry assignment he discovers the small tributary called a "brook" has dried up leaving the rural ravine community without the fundamental resource for survival: water. What is fascinating theologically is the drought is caused by Ahab's policies and the environmental crisis is the divine reaction to human disrespect and greed. The "brook dries up" not because of random events, but the hubris of leadership believing political decisions are divorced from the cosmic character of the universe.
The scripture states "the brook dries up!"
As we look at America and our global conditions of poverty, fiscal insecurity and environmental crisis the drying brooks are a direct result of human hubris. If we use the term "drought" as a metaphor to understand our condition one of the reasons "brooks dry up" is because of "man-made" policy decisions designed to benefit as small minority. The creation of "policy dams" designed to provide water and resources to the wealthy always overlook the poor and vulnerable. Dams are created to provide resources and energy by diverting the natural flow of water and redirecting the resources to designated areas. The tragedy of any "man made" dam is people with financial resources usually receive the lion share of the water and those without a voice watch as the "brook" they depended upon dries up. An example of "man-made" dam building policies was the construction of the Aswan dam in Egypt. America supported President Nasser call to build the Aswan dam and relocate the indigenous Nubian population. Over 120,000 men and women were relocated to Sudan and other parts of Egypt and forty years later part of the genocide in southern Sudan is connected to relocation of Nubian population that is viewed as an unwanted refugee group. When the poor and vulnerable are not considered "man made" dams dry up the resources and cripple the livelihood of the poor.
America has had her share of "man-made" dam policies that have crippled the poor and benefited the powerful. In 1933 the Glass/ Steagall Act was created to ensure commercial banks and investment banks are separate entities. Money for mortgages should not be bought and sold on open market was the traditional thinking. This was the standard policy of America economists for fifty years. It was during the 1980's when the trickle down economic theory began to gain steam. Alan Greenspan and other conservative voices preached a message of market fundamentalism and deregulation. It was in 1999 under Bill Clinton when the Citigroup relief act was introduced into law allowing commercial banks and investment banks to merge opening the door for home mortgages being sold on the open open market. This simple law designed to create new investment vehicles for the wealthy dried up the "brooks" for the poor. Homes were lost a housing bubble was created and sub-prime lending became all the rage on Wall Street as the "brook" of home security dried up for the middle class and poor.
God has called not to live as Ahab, but speak up like Elijah and offer a new alternative vision for the world. A world where the poor and vulnerable are cared for and the last shall be first. A vision where the elderly and children are deemed priorities and health is not a privilege but a right. A world where compassion is deeply held value and love is lived through just action. A world similar to one Jesus talks about. What a a world... What a wonderful world if we choose not to allow the "brooks" to dry up.