A Gathering Voices Post by Lara Blackwood Pickrel
Though the movie didn't always receive the greatest of reviews, there is a scene in the 2006 film The Nativity Story that moved me to tears in the theater and has stuck with me ever since. At the beginning of the film (minutes 7:45-8:45), young Mary delivers some goat cheese to her neighbor, Ruth. When Mary walks into the dwelling, Ruth is surrounded by several children of the village - and she is telling them the story of Elijah's encounter with God found in 1 Kings 19:11-13:
Then He said, “Go out, and stand on the mountain before the LORD.” And behold, the LORD passed by, and a great and strong wind tore into the mountains and broke the rocks in pieces before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake; and after the earthquake a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire; and after the fire a still small voice. So it was, when Elijah heard it, that he wrapped his face in his mantle and went out and stood in the entrance of the cave. Suddenly a voice came to him, and said, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” (New King James Version)
This is a story the children know in their bones. It has been told to them from their infancy, provided to them as nourishment along with their mothers' milk. As Ruth recites it, they fill in the blanks - a chorus swelling with "But the LORD was not in the wind" and "But the LORD was not in the earthquake" before softly settling into "And after the fire, a still small voice."
There is something incredibly precious about children who not only know to look for God, but also know in their bones how to recognize God. I think that is what moves me to tears every time I watch the scene.
Generally, I only think about this movie when we near Christmas - but it also pops into my heart every time an earthquake rattles or a storm lashes its way into the news. Last night, as I lay in bed praying for people in the path of storms barreling through the South, I caught a flash of it. And, knowing that there will be voices who declare these storms an act of God, I longed for our children to be a generation who knows 1 Kings 19:11-13 in their bones.
My prayer this morning (in addition to prayers for the injured, the dead, the devastated) is this: Oh God, may we teach and guide our children to become a people who help rebuild lives and bury our dead with these words upon their lips: "But the LORD was not in the wind." Amen.
Additional Resources from www.TheThoughtfulChristian.com
Opening to God: Childlike Prayers for Adults, by Marilyn McCord Adams
A Children's Guide to Worship, by Ruth L. Boling and Lauren J. Muzzy
"Mary, Mother of Jesus," by J. Ellsworth Kalas (Adult Study)
"Different Ways to Pray: A Two-Day Retreat for Youth," by Nancy Ferguson