Readings for the Week of June 29

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Elijah and Elisha

Readings for the Week of June 29th

Psalm 77:1-20II Kings 2:1-14 • Galatians 5:1-25Luke 9:51-62

Elijah is the prototypical prophet from the Old Testament. He is known for his miraculous healings (that mirror some of Jesus’ healings in the Gospels), for his contest with the prophets of Baal, and for his strong words against Ahab and Jezebel—the corrupt king of Israel and his dangerously evil wife.

As strong as Elijah was, he is also known for his depressive episode after his victory against the Baal priests on Mt. Carmel. He runs miles and miles and collapses in a cave where he is ministered to by angels. He is the prophet. He is also human.

Along with Enoch, Elijah never died. Instead, he was taken up into heaven on a chariot of fire. But, before he goes, he throws his mantle over Elijah. (His cape or cloak.) The “mantle” represents Elijah’s prophetic calling, his prophetic authority, and also, his affection for his protégé. Not only is he the prototypical prophet but he also displays the deeply Christian tradition of passing on the faith, from person to person. We see this in II Timothy 2:2 and elsewhere. But, this passing on of the faith includes the passing on of expectation and calling. God called Elijah, and then through Elijah, God calls Elisha.

It’s worth thinking about. God called Elijah, who called Elisha, who called numerous others. Who called you? Who threw their mantle over you? Have you considered how far back that calling goes? How many generations?

Walter Brueggemann has a fun and brief conversation on this subject in the video below. Fast forward to :42 for his comments on Elijah and Elisha.

Brueggemann on Elijah’s mantle.

O Lord, make us have perpetual love and reverence for your holy Name, for you never fail to help and govern those whom you have set upon the sure foundation of your loving-kindness; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Paul Hill