Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Please Stay Here

When the LORD was about to take Elijah up to heaven in a whirlwind, he and Elisha were on their way from Gilgal. Elijah said to Elisha, “Please stay here; the LORD has sent me on to the Jordan.” “As the LORD lives, and as you yourself live, I will not leave you,” Elisha replied.  2 Kings 2:1-2

“Take care not to perform righteous deeds in order that people may see them; otherwise, you will have no recompense from your heavenly Father.”  Matthew 6:1

Lord, may we receive a double portion of your spirit to give us strength and commitment to fulfill your mission.

The episode from Kings reminds me of a reverse ascension.  After Easter, the disciples were trying to hold onto Jesus.  On the road to Emmaus and elsewhere, they pleaded their case: “Stay with us.”  Elijah does something different with his student.  Knowing that the Lord will call him home soon, Elijah pleads his case with Elisha three times.  “Please stay here.”  He knows that someone must take on the mantle of the prophet and follow in his footsteps to continue the mission.

Elijah commissions Elisha with his request to stay with the people in Bethel, Jericho and Jordan.  Elisha accepts his mission with the words, “As the LORD lives, and as you yourself live, I will not leave you.”  What follows is not an elaborate confirmation of the Holy Spirit descending upon Elisha or an ordination or coronation.  As Elijah ascends to the heavens in his chariot, he leaves behind his mantle and his spirit which Elisha then wears as the sign of his new mission, his mission that extends the mission of Elijah. 

In Elijah and Elisha, we have flashbacks to the past.  Elijah’s sheepskin garment foreshadows the look of John the Baptist in the desert.  The sight of the fiery chariot is like Moses burning bush.  Striking the water with his new mantle makes Elisha like Moses parting the seas in the Exodus.  And the ascent to the heavens foreshadows Jesus leaving behind his disciples to carry on the work.

What mission has Jesus asked you to fulfill today?  Has he asked you to be on a team like the women planning the 148th Cursillo this fall?  Has he asked for your prayers for special intentions such as the victims of families of Orlando Pulse?  Has he asked for your almsgiving for the people of Europe that they may be able to care for the waves of refugees arriving on their shores on the five-year anniversary of the Syrian civil war?

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