THESE ARE HARD WORDS
Please read the following scriptures before proceeding.
2 Kings 2:1-2, 6-14 and Psalm 77:1-2, 11-20 • 1 Kings 19:15-16, 19-21 and Psalm 16 • Galatians 5:1, 13-25 • Luke 9:51-62
What does it mean to say yes?
A young bride stood in front of her husband to be. Unknown to him she had changed the vows. She looked into his eyes and quoted a well know passage of scripture. As she spoke tears came to his eyes for he understood what she was saying. Forty years later that same woman looked into her husbands eyes and said, I didn’t understand what those words meant. I am leaving.
In the passage of scripture Elisha the young man, about to enter the ministry of a prophet, asked for a double portion of Elijah’s spirit. Elisha wanted to be able to do what his predecessor was able to do plus more. Elijah the prophet said, “You have asked a hard thing.”
Most Seminaries now have internship programs. Candidates for doing ministry must participate in a special form of ministry. Then these interns are declared acceptable. I called the seminary one day and asked for an intern to be assigned to the work I was doing. I was told no seminarian was willing to go. I said I will match the pay, no one will be shorted. No, Carl, you do not understand. No one wants to do what you are doing. You see every potential intern wrote down they wanted to go to a middle or upper middle class church where they could be more comfortable. There would be no prestige working with you. I can’t find anyone to work with you.
The apostle Paul in Galatians reflects on the what is called the fruit of the spirit. When a person lives reflecting the fruit of the spirit Paul likens this to dying to oneself. In some way it is pealing one’s identity off and putting on a new identity. It goes beyond being a servant. It is what Elijah said, it is a hard thing. It is what Jesus identified as a life without promises.
Elisha the young prophet would have to learn. The young seminarians will have to learn.
As a global community we are sitting on the precipice of a catastrophe. The doomsday clock was recently moved 3 minutes ahead. What that means is that forces begin to take place that need to be halted. The presidential campaign in the United States illustrates how out of control this battle is. Elisha was being warned. We don’t even have to hear the words of a prophet and we clearly hear how values based on the fruit of the spirit are suspended, care for human needs take a back seat not just to profits but the maintenance of comfort zones for a select group of people. This is not about socialism or capitalism. This is not just about the United States, this is a global tragedy where instead of leaders choose to rise to the highest values of a society they instead succumb to the lowest values of valueless thugs. Both economic systems have become defunct and are now subservient to greed and dominance.
Elijah said, you have asked for a hard thing. You will not be able to pretend that everything will come out in the wash. Jesus was asked, can I have some time off, I have important business to deal with. Jesus bluntly replied, the dead will have to bury the dead.
Wow, these have been hard words.
Everyday in our sarcoidosis groups our people are confronted with the need to make decisions. Ours is a group with a disease no-one seems to know where it came from, and no one seems to know how to stop it. In the name of the cure we build bigger hospitals, bigger research labs, create more pills, and ultimately see what we create caving in on itself as it begins to compete with itself. The cost to maintain the system now out runs the ability to cover the cost of treatment. Will we choose to make a difference or will we choose to not be a part of the corrective course?
Elisha representing the future of the prophetic school, full of hope and energy said I want a double portion. I want to go out and kick butt. I will lead the charge.
THESE ARE HARD WORDS.
Morning Prayer: Lord God too many times I have not been willing to answer. My prayer is not a prayer of repentance it is a prayer calling out for help. I feel crippled, held back, unwilling to move ahead, to willing to say it is just me, I cannot fight this battle alone. I am part of a people willing to settle for second best. Help me Lord to become more like Elisha, in my ignorance, help me to step forward, help me to march into the battle where even angels fear to tread. Lord I believe that is what the cross was all about. It was not about the dying it was about the rising. It is the climbing above and moving onward. Amen.