Psalm 75, 76; 2 Kings 2:1-18; 1 Cor. 4:1-7; Matt. 5:17-20
Nothing stays the same for ever: it is all passing away. Elisha is comfortable playing second fiddle to Elijah, but Elijah’s time is coming to an end. And Elisha’s none too happy about that fact, but it is, as they say, what it is.
The things we get comfortable with–our command of our job, the friendships and relationships we can rely on, the way things have always been–have this nasty and predictable tendency to be ephemeral. You wake up one day and find that your joints ache and your hair’s gone grey and your best friend is moving to Arizona for the weather. Or you wake up one day and find that the marriage you’d taken for granted and so done absolutely nothing to improve because ‘it’s good enough’ has, in fact, unravelled and fallen apart while you were busy ignoring the signs. The leader you trusted turns out to be less trustworthy than you assumed, or is succeeded by someone who you don’t know, or wakes up (as people tend to) dead, and suddenly you’re wondering where you’re going to get your leadership from. Elijah’s time always comes to an end. Always. Perhaps my favorite hymn in our hymnal puts it this way (we sang it on Sept 9, 2001, coincidentally): ‘though with care and toil we build them, tower and temple fall to dust.’
The question is whether we’re ready to move ahead, willing to shoulder the mantle when it’s shrugged from other shoulders, prepared to step into the gap. Are we ready to ask for, and use, a double share in the unsure changes and chances that lie ahead of us, or are we merely going to bewail the unfairness of the only thing we’ve ever been promised–which is impermanence?