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Baccalaureate Speaker Uses Biblical Lesson of Elijah as Cautionary Tale

May 13, 2017

Category: Academics, Alumni, Events

Baccalaureate_2017_WH_36.JPGUsing the biblical tale of Elijah the prophet, the Reverend Kristin Gerner Vaughn ’00 spun a cautionary tale entitled, “Journey On,” to members of the Catawba’s Class of 2017 during her Baccalaureate Service homily on Friday, May 12.  The service, held in the Omwake-Dearborn Chapel, was a time for those to reflect on Elijah’s humanity and wavering faith, and on God’s Positioning System or GPS and its ability to help steady Elijah’s course and faith, and to strengthen him.

Based on the story of Elijah from I Kings 19:1-15a, Vaughn wove the tale of Elijah’s “battle” against the followers of Baal. God supported him in this battle, Vaughn said, until Elijah’s own faith wavered because of the threats of one woman who was also a follower of Baal, Jezebel.

“When his own life was at stake, his faith wavered,” she said. As Elijah fled into the wilderness against her threats to slay him as he had slain the prophets of Baal, “his instep left imprints of entitlement” and he entered “the wilderness protection plan.”

Finding himself journeying alone in the wilderness, without food and water, Elijah, Vaughn shared, “started by stopping.”  He rests and sleeps and is awakened cake cooked on hot stones and water delivered to him by an angel of God. The angel tells him to eat and drink or he will not be strong enough for his journey.  After Elijah does so, then he sleeps again, and again the angel of God awakens him to eat cake and drink water.  After he does, that food and drink sustains him as he travels for 40 days and 40 nights to Horeb the mount of God. 

On the mount, the voice of God asks him, “Elijah, what are you doing here?” Vaughn said.

In his full humanity and with his wavering faith, Elijah unloads to God about how he is being pursued and threatened with death by the minions of Jezabel who are intent on killing him and purging God’s prophets.  God tells him to go out and stand on the top of the mount to see the Lord who is about to pass by.

A great wind begins to blow and it splits and breaks rocks, but God is not in the wind.  Then an earthquake occurs, but God is not in the earthquake.  Then finally a great fire occurs, but God is not in the fire.  As all of these things occur, Vaughn said, Elijah shelters himself in a cave, or cleft in the rock on the mount.  It is only after the wind, the earthquake and fire, comes the sound of silence falls on the ears of Elijah.  That silence, Vaughn shared, brings Elijah out of the cave.

Again the voice of God asks him, “Elijah, what are you doing here?”  Again, Elijah begins his tale of woe to God, Vaughn shared.  And, it is only then that God gives Elijah direction on the next steps in his life’s journey.

Elijah only hears God’s commands and direction as he spends some time in the crevice of the rock, Vaughn said, “feeling the grandeur and hearing the power in the still small voice of God.”

“We are all on a journey like Elijah,” she shared, “and you are what you believe you are…so remember, you are a magnificent creation of the divine.  Give more attention to your creator than to your critics and remember your GPS will be your best friend.

“On this journey of life, there will be times where we are not at our best, like Elijah, but we need to wade into deeper waters and ask what can this situation teach me.  The story of Elijah reminds us to spend some quiet time in the crevices, to be kind to ourselves.”

Shut out the noise of the world, Vaughn emphasized, in order to hear voice of God.

Vaughn is an ordained minister, retreat leader, musician, community member, friend, daughter and mother.  A native of southeast Guilford County, she received her Bachelor of Arts degree from Catawba College in 1999.  She continued her education as a graduate of the inaugural class of Wake Forest University Divinity School, before completing a year-long Chaplaincy Residency at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center.

She has served in various ministry settings including as Chaplain for Forsyth Regional Medical Center’s Oncology Center, as well as parish ministry positions at Peace United Church of Christ in Greensboro; Pilgrimage United Church of Christ in Marietta, Ga.; Brick Reformed United Church of Christ in Whitsett; and is now serving as Co-Pastor at Mount Hope United Church of Christ, Whitsett. 

Married to husband Mike, the two are parents of three children, Jonathan (10), Emma (8), and Kathryn (6).