I hope this day finds you and your family well. I invite you to take a few moments with me to read and reflect upon today’s scripture selection — and to carry these thoughts with you into your day.
Today’s Scripture: 2 Kings 2:1-12
Elijah goes to heaven
2 Now the Lord was going to take Elijah up to heaven in a windstorm, and Elijah and Elisha were leaving Gilgal. 2 Elijah said to Elisha, “Stay here, because the Lord has sent me to Bethel.”
But Elisha said, “As the Lord lives and as you live, I won’t leave you.” So they went down to Bethel.
3 The group of prophets from Bethel came out to Elisha. These prophets said to Elisha, “Do you know that the Lord is going to take your master away from you today?”
Elisha said, “Yes, I know. Don’t talk about it!”
4 Elijah said, “Elisha, stay here, because the Lord has sent me to Jericho.”
But Elisha said, “As the Lord lives and as you live, I won’t leave you.” So they went to Jericho.
5 The group of prophets from Jericho approached Elisha and said to him, “Do you know that the Lord is going to take your master away from you today?”
He said, “Yes, I know. Don’t talk about it!”
6 Elijah said to Elisha, “Stay here, because the Lord has sent me to the Jordan.”
But Elisha said, “As the Lord lives and as you live, I won’t leave you.” So both of them went on together. 7 Fifty members from the group of prophets also went along, but they stood at a distance. Both Elijah and Elisha stood beside the Jordan River. 8 Elijah then took his coat, rolled it up, and hit the water. Then the water was divided in two! Both of them crossed over on dry ground. 9 When they had crossed, Elijah said to Elisha, “What do you want me to do for you before I’m taken away from you?”
Elisha said, “Let me have twice your spirit.”
10 Elijah said, “You’ve made a difficult request. If you can see me when I’m taken from you, then it will be yours. If you don’t see me, it won’t happen.”
11 They were walking along, talking, when suddenly a fiery chariot and fiery horses appeared and separated the two of them. Then Elijah went to heaven in a windstorm.
12 Elisha was watching, and he cried out, “Oh, my father, my father! Israel’s chariots and its riders!” When he could no longer see him, Elisha took hold of his clothes and ripped them in two.
Tim’s Devotional Reflection for Today
This passage of scripture is certainly about Elijah and Elisha, but it speaks to me today in another way. It is also about the transition from one generation to the next — and the power and pain of that transition.
Every time someone wants to talk to Elisha about the fact that Elijah will be passing from the scene, his response is “Yes, I know; keep silent.”
He doesn’t even want to talk about it. It’s just too painful.
I look back on all the mentors I have had who are no longer with us. I have felt the loss of each one and, like Elisha, I have wanted to “inherit a double share of their spirit.” I have wanted to hold on to them and have even said to some of them that I wish I could download their experience and knowledge into my brain. Of course, I can’t do that, but what I can do is accept and embrace the gifts they have given to me.
We have a worship service at our annual conferences each year in which we recognize and celebrate the ministries of clergy who are retiring. There is a powerful moment in that worship service that is based on this passage of scripture called the “Passing of the Mantle.”
In that part of the service, a representative of the retiring class of clergy and a representative of the newly ordained class of clergy kneel. The bishop takes the “mantle” — either a cape or a stole — and places it on the shoulders of the representative of the retiring class, saying, “In the book of Kings we read of the prophet Elijah’s ministry. The mantle, symbolic of submission to God, fell upon the younger prophet, Elisha, and the spirit of Elijah rested upon Elisha.
Then, the representative of the retiring class rises and places the mantle on the shoulders of the representative of the new full member class, and says, “I transfer this mantle from our generation to the young, indicating thereby that the responsibilities and dedication of the older generation will be caught up and carried on by the young, and the spirit of today’s Elijahs will rest upon today’s Elishas.”
Then, the representative of the new class rises, turns to the retiring class, and says, “We who come after you take up the mantle which falls upon us. May we inherit a double share of your spirit.”
Now I am in my 60’s and moving toward my own retirement, into the time when I will be the one passing from the scene, rather than the one saying goodbye to my early mentors. What gifts will I leave? What would a double share of my spirit look like?
I invite you to think about your mentors and the people who have gone before you who are important in your life. Who were they? What of their spirit have you inherited? Who will come after you? What gifts are you giving to those who will inherit a measure of your spirit?
Thank you for sharing this early moment of your day with me, with God, and with these words and reflections I hope you will carry with you throughout the coming day and night.
Thank you for sharing this early moment of your day with me, with God, and with the words and reflections I hope you will carry with you throughout the coming day and night.
Grace and Peace,
Dr. Tim Bruster