June 26, 2016- Sixth Sunday after Pentecost

June 23, 2016 | by Benjamin Cowan

Reading 1 Reading 2 Reading 3 Reading 4 Reading 1 Alt Reading 2 Alt
2 Kings 2:1-2 & 6-14 Psalm 77: 1-2 & 11-20 Galatians 5:1 & 13-25 Luke 9:51-62 1 Kings 19:15-16 &19-21 Psalm 16

2 Kings 2:1-2 & 6-14

The text tells the story of how Elisha succeeded Elijah as prophet. Elijah offers Elisha many opportunities to turn back but Elisha does not leave his “father.” Their journey takes them to many of the holy places and famous sites in the story of Israel and God. Their journey becomes a walk in the present through the past. Elijah towards the end of his journey asks Elisha what can he do for him; Elisha asks for the inheritance of the firstborn, in other words to be a prophet like he was. Upon Elijah’s ascension, Elisha sees Elijah and recognizes him as the servant of God. Elisha tore his garment in recognition of Elijah no longer being with him and picks up Elijah’s cloak, symbolic of him being Elijah’s successor. The text challenges us to consider if we are truly making disciples? Have you trained people who will continue the ministry of the commonwealth of God not for profit or glory but in service to God, like Elisha?

Psalm 77: 1-2 & 11-20

In this passage, the psalmist refuses to take comfort in anything but the Lord. Despite the predicament the psalmist is facing, only the Lord has the answer. To maintain the steadfastness of this conviction, the psalmist recalls stories of God in the psalmist personal life and the life of the psalmist people. The psalm demonstrates that to have true perspective on a situation, one needs the wisdom of the Lord and should seek it out. Let us pray like the psalmist  for discernment the wisdom of God, and a willingness to respond to God’s lure.

Alternative Reading: 1 Kings 19:15-16 &19-21

The alternative reading picks up after Elijah’s encounter with God on Mt. Carmel. Elijah now knows that God has a plan for the situation. God is preparing a new generation of leaders in government and in the prophetic. The selected reading focuses on the calling of Elisha as a prophet to succeed Elijah. As  Elisha is working on the family farm,  suddenly Elijah walks by and throws his cloak upon him. Elisha, shocked and honored, asks for permission to say goodbye to his parents. His parents bless him and he becomes the servant of Elijah. For Elijah the future looked dim and without hope, but for God there were possibilities for change. Elijah, trusts God more than his own feelings and begins training a new generation, one that is not shaped by despair. This text calls upon us all to be mentors and to be mentored.

Alternative Reading: Psalm 16

The alternative psalm fits the narrative of the alternative Old Testament reading. Like Elijah, the psalmist has put his hope and trust in God as his savior. After the threat of Ahab and Jezebel, Elijah grew fearful but after Mount Carmel, Elijah knew that God was not done with him and that God had a mission for him to finish. The psalmist rejoices in the council of the Lord and that God has a plan for his life. We, like the psalmist and Elijah, are called to put our hope not in what we see but where the lure of God is leading us.

Galatians 5:1 & 13-25

The text begins with Paul reminding his audience not to be yoked or burdened by attempting to live by the Law. In the context of Galatians, this is symbolized as being circumcised. Paul argues that Christians do not need to be circumcised in order to follow God. Paul observes that although the people of Jesus are indeed free from the Law, this is not a call to become caught up in self-pleasure. On the contrary, by being the people of Jesus, they now have the Spirit of God. As Jesus was led by the Spirit, they also are to be led. Rejecting the lure of the Spirit is what leads to what Paul calls to works of the flesh but responding to the lure leads to works of the Spirit. The former are self-centered while the latter are reflective of living a life of love towards God and neighbor. This text is a reminder that the Spirit does not impose one culture’s values upon another but unites people through love, humility, and respect for each other. contrast to the works of the flash, which always seek to give another, person, group, society, etc., an advantage or dominance over others.

Luke 9:51-62

In this passage, Jesus breaks many social norms. First, on his way to Jerusalem, he is willing to stop in a Samaritan town, something that pious Jews would never do!  Second, Jesus is willing to have fellowship with those outside his social norms. Unfortunately, due to the complicated history between the Samaritans and the Jews, they were not willing to receive him. When his disciples sought to bring judgment upon them for rejecting Jesus, Jesus rebukes them. Jesus shows an understanding for the pain and mistrust that has developed in the Samaritans concerning the Jews. The second half of the passage discusses the cost of following Jesus. Being a disciple of Jesus is to take priority over any obligation, including family and the duty of sons to their fathers. Whereas Elijah allowed Elisha to say farewell to his family (1 Kings 19:19-21) Jesus does not. Jesus take an approach similar to the angels who informed Lot’s family to leave and not look back, lest they are destroyed (Genesis 19:1-24). This speaks to the hour in which Israel was in and the urgency of the meed to  proclaim good news to the poor, the prisoner, the orphan, the widow, the fatherless etc.. This text calls us to practice mercy and consider the cost of following God. Elisha himself demonstrates this before Elijah is taken away by refusing to leave Elijah’s side. Responding to the lure of God is higher than any other perception for in it is the highest possibility for life. If one chooses to follow God, one must be ready at any moment to go where the wind blows.