Sunday, 27 June 2010
The mantle of love
This reflection was punctuated by a vuvuzela!
We could do with a few of these punctuating our reading this morning.
People either love them or hate them
They’ve become a constant accompaniment to the World Cup action in South Africa.
In our Old Testament reading this morning, a few of these would, perhaps shake things up a bit.
Because there’s a conspiracy of silence.
It’s time for Elisha to take over from the old prophet Elijah who has been his mentor, taught him everything he knows.
But, every time someone tries to talk to Elisha about it, they’re told Wheesht… Let’s not talk about it.
Elisha is adopting that age old coping strategy that we’ve all adopted at some time – if we don’t talk about it, it might never happen.
Or – if we ignore it, it will go away.
How often have you done that?
How often has it worked?
It doesn’t work, does it?
In fact, often, not confronting things simply makes them worse.
It’s very understandable.
When we imagine something to be unpleasant, then we’d rather avoid facing it.
But it seldom goes away – and by the time we face up to things, they’re worse than they might otherwise have been.
Or, occasionally, they’re actually not nearly as bad as we feared.
So all our worrying has been a waste of energy.
That’s how it panned out with Elisha.
He couldn’t change the fact that he was to take over from Elijah.
And, actually, when that moment came, it turned out to be phenomenal.
Elisha witnessed his mentor being taken up into heaven in a chariot in a whirlwind – he witnessed the miraculous power of God.
And then, he came to realise that he had been given that same spirit that Elijah had – in double measures.
The moment he had feared.
The moment he had done his best to avoid.
Became one of the greatest moments of his life.
I wonder if that’s ever been your experience?
That something you dreaded not just turned out OK, but turned out much better than you could ever have imagined?
As people of faith, it shouldn’t really surprise us, though it does constantly.
The God in whom we trust IS amazing.
And often things in life are transformed beyond our imagining by the power of that amazing God.
Things we worry about.
Things we stress over.
Don’t go away.
But are often transformed when we commit them to God.
Elisha saw Elijah being taken up to heaven on a chariot pulled by horses in the midst of a whirlwind.
The stuff of fantasy.
The kind of imagery that we shy away from because it is just too fantastical for this modern age in which we live.
And yet, our experience of life tells us that magical things DO happen.
That life can be turned around in ways that we would never have expected.
It may not be cool.
But we can believe in miracles.
Be it the miracle that England is still in the world cup.
Or the miracle that the God who is revealed in our remarkable scripture reading in a whirlwind today, still participates in our everyday lives.
Everyday is punctuated by miracles.
We can choose to see them and share them.
Or we can indulge in that conspiracy of silence.
But still the God of miracles will invade our everyday and transform the world around us.
In our sacrament (of baptism) this morning, we celebrated the miracle of new life.
And celebrated the miracle that God loves us even before we can respond or even begin to understand that love.
The love of God follows us all through life.
When we acknowledge God’s love.
And when we don’t.
God’s love is there for us.
And so, whatever may afflict us in life.
Whatever worries we may be hiding.
The love of God surrounds us and upholds us.
Our pain may not be taken from us.
Our anxiety may not disappear.
But our lives can be transformed just knowing that the God of miracles cares for us all through life.
God did not reassure Elisha that all would be well.
In fact, Elisha was kept in suspense right to the end.
To the moment he parted the waters of the Jordan, he couldn’t be sure whether he had received the gift of the spirit of Elijah.
Believing in a God of miracles does not ensure that our lives will be easy or pain free.
But that faith does bring us a reassurance that we can face whatever comes our way in life, that we will have the resources to endure, in the knowledge that we are surrounded by a God whose name is love.
Today’s reading speaks into our lives as individuals.
What are the things of which we dare not speak?
What are the things we are afraid to confront?
And today’s reading speaks into our life as the church together in this place.
What is it we’re afraid to face up to.
What is it we maintain silence on so that we won’t upset the apple cart.
Immersing ourselves in silence will not resolve anything.
Being people of faith, called as we are to take up the mantle of the Spirit of God demands that we be courageous and face up to the challenges that meet us in life.
Face up to challenges knowing that the God of love goes before us and carries us to places we could never imagine.
Let’s wake up to the challenges surrounding us – and to the God who accompanies us through all of life.