Elijah and Elisha are out walking one day, talking with each other. But it is hardly a normal day. Fire breaks out. Fire from the Lord—a chariot and horses from heaven. It separates the two of them and Elijah ascends to heaven in a whirlwind.
Throughout the Hebrew scriptures, fire comes from God. Moses communicates with God through the burning bush. (See Exodus 3.) Fire by night gives light and warmth to Israel as God’s people wander in the desert those forty long years. (See Exodus 13:21.) Now more fire comes to bring Elijah home to heaven.
So, what can we make of this story for us today? Possibly everything is going along quite nicely at the moment. But you may wonder when a “fire” will break out and disrupt your life. Or perhaps stress and worry already have turned up the heat. Are you experiencing unwanted separation from who or what means the most to you? If so, fire has broken out in your life.
It may be time to step back and ask, “Whats next, Lord?” For Elijah, all heaven breaks loose! Elisha is anointed with great power to continue the Lord’s prophetic work.
For you and me the question remains: What’s next? Will God’s fire consume us? No, probably not. God promises a fire to help us—to light our way and warm our heart. We may find the temperature of God’s fire disagreeable or even unbearable when we’re unsure what is going on. But we can step back and wait for God’s answer. A cloak may yet descend upon us with new purpose for the days ahead.
Thank you, Lord, for your fire that offers reassuring warmth and light. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
This week’s readings open with the dramatic scene of Elijah’s departure. As the prophet is taken into heaven by fiery chariots, his cloak falls to his successor, Elisha—symbolic of the continuation of God’s prophetic work. The psalmist praises the Lord for being the source of all good. The Lord gives guidance, protection, security, and joy. Paul reminds us that freedom in Christ comes with responsibility. We cannot live to satisfy our fleshly desires. If we live in the power of the Spirit, then our manner of life should stand out and bear godly fruit. In the Gospel reading, Jesus challenges his followers with the cost of discipleship. His statements here may seem extreme, but he is pointing out that we can be tempted to find excuses for not proclaiming the kingdom of God.
Read 2 Kings 2:1-2, 6-14. When has fire—real or metaphorical—changed your life? How have you seen God working in this change?
Read Psalm 16. Recall a time when you needed God’s protection. How did you keep God in front of you?
Read Galatians 5:1, 13-25. Along with our freedom, we are given a responsibility. How do you use your freedom to serve others?
Read Luke 9:51-62. When have you heard Jesus’ call to follow? What have you had to leave behind to follow the one who has “set his face to go to Jerusalem”?
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