1st Scripture Reading: 2 Kings 2:1-12 & Psalm 50 (VU p. 775)
Reflection: We talk a lot about God’s faithfulness to God’s people – to us. But a relationship is a two way street, isn’t it? What about our part in this relationship? In different ways, these two readings from the Hebrew scriptures deal with this issue.
Elisha had been called by the prophet Elijah to follow him and be his disciple, in much the same way as Jesus called his disciples. Elisha was called to be faithful to God, and as Elijah’s disciple (and understanding that the prophet was a voice for God) Elisha understood his calling to include being faithful to his teacher.
Three times Elijah tested his faithfulness by trying to send him away. The Lord has called me, Elijah said, but you stay here. Three times this happened, and three times Elisha refused to abandon his master.
Having assured himself of Elisha’s dedication, even unto the death of his teacher, Elijah then asked him, “Tell me what I may do for you, before I am taken from you.”
And what did Elisha say? “Please let me inherit a double share of your spirit.” Elisha asks to take on double the responsibility that Elijah had been carrying. For this huge undertaking he will require double the strength of spirit that had been Elijah’s.
As Elijah’s disciple, Elisha would expect to inherit the “mantle” of his teacher. But as we see in this reading, this is not a sure thing – it can’t be assumed that he will get this power and this responsibility. Elijah tests his readiness to be God’s new prophet. He must watch and see that God lifts up Elijah, and in what manner. If he does this successfully, then he will inherit the mantle of his teacher and all that goes with it. Let me read on a little further in this reading from Kings.
(2 Kings 2: 13-15)
So we see that Elisha has torn his old clothes in two, and assumed the mantle (the garment) of Elijah, and is able to demonstrate that he has been given the power, by parting the waters, and by the recognition of the other prophets.
The Psalm reminds us that tho God is faithful, and all powerful Creator, we are covenant people – we are people in relationship to God. We can’t just sit back and make blood sacrifice, and do lip-service to God’s call for justice. We are called to demonstrate to God our faithfulness, our fidelity, even under fire.
We have only read the first part of Psalm 50. Let me read you a bit more. I’m starting at verse 12.
This Psalm says very clearly to me that we are held accountable for our actions. We do know what is the right way to behave in relationship to other people – and God expects no less of us.
The peaceable Kingdom of God depends on us. We are making choices every day that demonstrate exactly how much we have learned about being in right relationship with other humans, with God, and with all of Creation. We must forgive the adulterer, the child abuser, the robber and the murderer – but we must not any longer allow ourselves to be that person. The Light and Love of God are as a consuming fire, cleansing, healing and transforming us – as we are willing to be changed. The power of the Love of God is an awesome thing. Let us give thanks for the generous Spirit of God as transforming agent at work right now in each of us.
Hymn #296 VU “This is God’s Wondrous World”
2nd Scripture Reading: 2 Corinthians 4:3-6 & Mark 9:2-9
Reflection: Both these readings are rather mysterious, don’t you think? Paul talks to the early Christians in Corinth about the “veiled” teachings of the gospel. He talks about how those who are attached to the evil doings of this world are unable or unwilling to understand the good news that Jesus brought into the world to light the darkness of his followers.
And who got to see the wonders of the transfiguration of Jesus on the mountain? Only three of his disciples: Peter, James and John – sometimes referred to as the “inner circle”. Not that they would necessarily understand immediately what they had seen, but that Jesus could count on them to be reliable witnesses to what had happened on that day. Jesus charged them not to tell about it until after he had been raised from the dead. So this teaching also was hidden – veiled from those who were not ready, not properly prepared, to receive it.
There’s an old saying amongst those who seek spiritual knowledge: “When the student is ready, the teacher will appear.” And that does not always happen in ways we might expect. The Light of Christ shone on Jesus on that day, and his disciples saw that affirmation of his identity as God’s chosen one. Would we recognize that Light on the face of any of the disciples of Jesus? Can we see it today on the faces of his faithful followers? “For it is the God who said, ‘Let Light shine out of the darkness,’ who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.”
God has shone in our hearts – opened our hearts – to be able to recognize the knowledge of the glory of God as it shines forth from those, like Jesus, who might be our teachers and guides in this place, in this lifetime.
The disciples reported witnessing the presence of Moses –the greatest of the Law-givers for the Jewish people, and of Elijah, their first and arguably greatest prophet, on the mountain, talking to Jesus on that day. As Jesus was probably seeking God’s guidance as he made the decision to go forward to the Cross, the presence of these two, long-dead spiritual guides, would have been of great significance to the people of God in that place at that time.
There is much here for us to chew on – much that remains veiled and mysterious for us to ponder. If nothing else, let us try to keep our minds open to truth we cannot yet understand. The life of the Spirit is not easily won – we must be prepared to be amazed, to be challenged, and to be transfigured – to be changed. God is with us. Christ is with us. Holy Spirit is with us. We are not alone. Thanks be to God.
Hymn #299 VU “Teach Me God to Wonder”