2 Kings 2:1-12
2 Corinthians 4:3-6
This week our landscape has been transformed by snow and sun, and what fun it has been! It’s been beautiful to look at with amazing clear views to the north. On Wednesday Helen and I had a walk on Windy Hill golf course which, deep in snow, appeared to have turned itself into a ski resort with children happily tobogganing on every available slope. Over on the Campsies there were some serious skiers negotiating the trails, as the snow in the dazzling sunlight, took on the appearance on royal icing on a celebration cake.
Our readings today have an equally fanciful and transformative theme.
In the OT Elisha bids farewell to Elijah as he ascends into heaven in a whirlwind. The story begins with them both walking along the road together. When they come to the Jordon Elijah takes his cloak, rolls it up and strikes the water with it. The water divides to the right and to the left, enabling the two of them to cross over on dry land……
“Elijah then says to Elisha, “Tell me, what can I do for you before I am taken from you?”
“Let me inherit a double portion of your spirit,” Elisha replied.
“You have asked a difficult thing,” Elijah said, “yet if you see me when I am taken from you, it will be yours—otherwise, it will not.”
As they were walking along and talking together, suddenly a chariot of fire and horses of fire appeared and separated the two of them, and Elijah went up to heaven in a whirlwind. Elisha saw this and cried out, “My father! My father! The chariots and horsemen of Israel!” And Elisha saw him no more. Then he took hold of his garment and tore it in two”. 2 Kings 2: 1-12
The vision reinforces Elisha’s belief in the prophet Elijah and in himself. It is entirely for his benefit, no one else witnesses it. It is a gift for him, a confirmation of his calling. When Elisha returns to the other prophets, no one is in any doubt about the fact that he is Elijah’s successor.
In the gospel we have the story of the Transfiguration, and this too, in a similar vein, is a confirmation for Peter, James and John of their calling. They also are the only witnesses to this extraordinary sight of Moses and Elijah watching Jesus as he is transfigured in a dazzling flash of light. Then they hear God’s voice, telling them that Jesus speaks for him, God-himself. What a wonderful assurance it must have been for these men who have given up everything to follow Jesus!
“After six days Jesus took Peter, James and John with him and led them up a high mountain, where they were all alone. There he was transfigured before them. His clothes became dazzling white, whiter than anyone in the world could bleach them. And there appeared before them Elijah and Moses, who were talking with Jesus……..Then a cloud appeared and covered them, and a voice came from the cloud: “This is my Son, whom I love. Listen to him!” Suddenly, when they looked around, they no longer saw anyone with them except Jesus.” Mark 9:2-9
Such dramatic visions may not come so readily to us, much as we might desire them to in order to affirm our faith and the ministries of which we feel God calls us to. However, we can nourish our minds and souls in spiritual transformation as we journey through Lent, praying, reflecting, reading and engaging in some form of Lenten devotion. I encourage you all, especially given the trying times we are in, to do this. I have offered several suggestions in my previous letter. Reading through one of the gospels is also an excellent and fruitful idea.
The Collect for the second Sunday of Epiphany comes to mind and seems appropriate to us now.
“Almighty God, in Christ you make all things new: transform the poverty of our nature by the riches of your grace, and in the renewal of our lives make known your heavenly glory; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.”
The Sunday Eucharist will be available at 11am online. You can access it on this link at that time. http://www.scotland.anglican.org/broadcast-sunday-worship/ Alternatively, you can access it by going straight onto the Scottish Episcopal Church website.
Worship for Ash Wednesday will also be available on the Provincial website.
I will look forward to joining you all again via YouTube on Thursday for our morning Eucharist.
Please feel free to telephone me at any time.
My love and prayers to you all as always
Loving God, bless and receive all who are affected by Coronavirus: Especially:
Those who are sick and afraid
Those who are especially vulnerable
Those for whom home is not safe or available
Those who have lost their livelihoods
Those who have lost their lives
Those mourning for loved ones.