Let us pray:
Open our eyes that we may behold mysteries, O God, yet see you in the every day. May these words and the meditations of all our hearts be acceptable in thy sight, O Lord our Rock and our Redeemer. Amen.
Let me begin with this observation from Wm. Loyd Allen, Sylvan Hills Baptist Professor of Church History and Spiritual Formation at the McAfee School of Theology, Atlanta, Georgia:
“In this text, a gap appears in prophetic continuity as God initiates a transfer of spiritual leadership. One era is ending, but the next has not yet begun, and everyone in the story is occupied by the implications of the succession. Such in-between times give rise to several significant theological themes: the flow of time in relation to the constancy of the eternal, the dealings of infinite Spirit with finite humanity, and the nature of faithful response in the face of the unknown and the Unknowable.”
He goes on to point out to us,
“The text suggests at least two faithful responses to the crises of the in-between times: persistence and silent watchfulness… Elisha admits to the prophets that his master Elijah is about to be taken away, but he calls for silence (vv. 3, 5) or stillness (so NASB) rather than premature conclusions. Unlike Peter at the transfiguration, who in his terror at the unknown did not know what to say but spoke anyway, and spoke unwisely (Mark 9:5–6), Elisha responds with a call for something reminiscent of the “sheer silence” in which Elijah had heard God (1 Kgs. 19:12)….
The history of interpretation for this text focuses on Elijah’s ascension and its relation to his unended life. Since he was taken up without dying, hope arose in the Christian canon for his return, free of time’s restraints. The Christian Old Testament canon ends with that expectation (Mal. 4:5–6), and the New Testament soon reveals his spirit resting with John the Baptist (Matt. 11:13–14) and present at the transfiguration. Elijah’s ascension signifies the unbound, timeless presence of the spirit’s continuation within history, from the era of dividers of waters—Moses (Exod. 14), Joshua (Josh. 3), Elijah, and Elisha (2 Kgs. 2:14)—to Jesus, upon whom the Spirit descended at baptism and was reaffirmed at the transfiguration. Jesus’ disciples, who were promised at Jesus’ ascension that if they would but wait for its timely coming, they too would be clothed in power from on high (Luke 24:48–51), were included at Pentecost, as are all who enter the waters of baptism in the flow of time.”
What do we do with this text today? In the silence of discernment, we have before us two among our number who have listened to and answered the call of discipleship in their lives, who have interpreted their call to discipleship at this time to mean leadership on the Session of our church. Today we will ordain Carolyn to the office of Ruling Elder in the Presbyterian Church (USA) and install both Carolyn and Ardith, previously ordained an Elder, to serve on Session for a three-year term.
“Elisha is rewarded by the revelation of God bridging the boundaries between time and timelessness, endings and endlessness. Soon he finds that God’s spirit remains and rests on him (2 Kgs. 2:14). We worry the spirit will leave us. The truth is that the spirit stays; it is we who must go.”
We who are called to serve, to step out in faith and go where the Spirit leads us. Today, we celebrate both a sending, and an arrival. In the words of the old spiritual, “Children go, where I send thee! How, shall I send thee? I’m gonna send thee one by one…one for the little bitty baby! He was born, born…born in Bethlehem.”
Elisha felt called to follow Elijah even unto his final moments on Earth. Jesus called Peter, James and John to follow him up the mountain where he was transformed before them and experienced an epiphany moment complete with a clear voice from heaven…a voice that thundered as opposed to the voice Elijah heard that whispered or the voice of Jesus, who called them from their every-day lives just a few chapters ago in Mark.
Just a few chapters ago in Carolyn’s life, we celebrated her official joining of this community of faith. A few chapters earlier in the life of this congregation, Ardith became a member. All of us have been called to serve in some way both this community of faith, as well as the greater community of Trout Lake and beyond. Guiding all our work and ministry together we pray is the Holy Spirit, who binds all we do together in witness to Christ’s work in the world. Come, let us recognize and celebrate the movement of God’s Spirit among us.
Amen? May it be so.
 Wm. Loyd Allen, “Theological Perspective, 2 Kings 2:1-12” in Feasting on the Word – Year B, ed.
David L. Bartlett and Barbara Brown Taylor ((Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 2008). Accordance edition hyper-texted and formatted by OakTree Software, Inc. Version 2.0
Questions for Reflection (From Feasting on the Word)
The Old Testament reading for today presents Elijah as a “new Moses”—striking the Jordan with his mantle and causing its waters to part so that he and Elisha could pass through on dry ground (2 Kgs. 2:8). The Gospel reading builds on this comparison by placing Moses and Elijah together at Jesus’ transfiguration (Mark 9:4). There is also a parent-child dynamic in each of these passages. Elisha asks to receive a “double share” of Elijah’s spirit (2 Kgs. 2:9)—the appointed inheritance of a firstborn son (see Deut. 21:17). At the transfiguration, God’s voice from the cloud bestows on Jesus the mantle of divine authority: “This is my Son, the Beloved; listen to him!” What do these constellations of relationships suggest to you? How do they help you to understand the transfiguration of Jesus? How is Jesus a fulfillment of the law (Moses) and the prophets (Elijah)? (See also Luke 24:44.) How is Jesus revealed to be God’s Son, and what does that mean for us? (See also Luke 3:22, 38.)
Household Prayer: Morning
God of glory, I greet you at the dawning of this day. Let my life proclaim Christ Jesus and the good news of the gospel from the rising of the sun to its setting; to the glory of your name. Amen.
Household Prayer: Evening
God of glory, I greet you at the ending of this day. Overshadow me with your peace so that I may rest in your presence from the setting of the sun to its rising; to the glory of your name. Amen.