I sit. I stare. I blink. I move like a snake sloughing its skin from the sofa watching the water to the computer chair watching the screen. I sit. I stare. I blink.
Occasionally, I slide into the kitchen for food and water. Occasionally I nod along to the bed for a nap.
Once I ventured into the laundry room and took the dry towels out of the dryer. Put dirty towels into the washer and closed the door. Now, assorted towels are scattered over the hallways in flat piles of colors - red, turquoise, blues - and some blue sheets over near the corner cabinet. I hope I return to the laundry room before the towels in the washer have soured.
We've had company for a week, and I've enjoyed watching them playing in the water - riding jet skis, kayaking, pulling the kayak behind the jet ski, taking boat rides. We went to the beach for a couple of days - hot, very hot. I saw the beach from the window. We returned to the creekside and they played some more. I watched. I can't stand the heat and humidity here; so I spend my summers indoors mostly.
All week, I've lacked motivation for movement - even though I've moved some. I sit, I watch. I smile. I eat. I sleep. It's a great vacation...coming to an end. Our friends left yesterday. Partner is going to church tomorrow; I probably won't go - so much effort to get ready in time. Besides, it's morning prayer and the officiant will be reading my sermon. I don't think I'm ready to hear someone else read a sermon I wrote.
I hope my motivation returns soon, but maybe not today.
Here's the sermon if you're interested:
The people of God are always in transition except when for the “begat” passages. This is so with Elijah. After a long and eventful time of prophecy, Elijah ends his prophesying by trying to get away from his followers, especially Elisha.
But Elisha and other prophets were persistent. They were Elijah’s followers; so they followed – first toward Gilgal, then to Bethel, then to the Jordan. Elijah finally convinces some 50 prophets to wait at the edge of the Jordan. He strikes the water with his mantle, a large cape, and the water parts. He crosses the river with Elisha right behind him.
Elijah turns to Elisha and says, “Okay, what can I do for you before I am taken away?”
And Elisha, not really knowing what it would mean to him, says, “Leave me a double share of your spirit.”
“Okay”, replies Elijah. “If you can see me being taken away, then your wish will be granted.”
What a follower Elisha was – to wish for a double share of the spirit of the great prophet Elijah! Suddenly, there goes Elijah off in a chariot with horses of fire! Elisha watches and cries out in amazement. When Elijah was gone, Elisha ripped his clothes and tore them apart, a sign of mourning in those days.
Then, he picked up Elijah’s mantle, struck the water of the River Jordan, and it parted for him just as it had for Elijah.
Elisha threw off his old clothes and put on new clothes. His perspective changed; his attitude changed; and he willingly took on the Spirit in the mantle of Elijah. During his ministry, Elisha did many wonderful things in God’s name with the people of Israel. He put off the old clothes, the old attitude, the old perspective and took on the rigorous duties of prophesy and service to God.
Now, that’s not unlike what we are doing here at St. Anne’s. We have been following along like Elisha for several years now – as faithfully as possible. We’ve done a great job of following.
But, now is the time to take up the mantle of Elijah and become leaders, to ask for that double share of spirit, and then to use that spirit in obedience to God. You say, “We are not prophets nor great leaders; we are a struggling congregation; and we can’t take on double Elijah’s spirit – we don’t know how.”
Paul tells us, in his letter to the Galatians, that the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control. We do know these things. These are the Spirit that we need in our time of transition.
We are making changes; we are in transition, just as the ancient peoples of God were in transition. In the Spirit of Elijah, our attitudes are changed; our abilities are enhanced; our perspectives see what is possible – the fruits of the Spirit that we can make real – today, tomorrow – here at St. Anne’s.
Others will see us differently as we take up the mantle of Elijah, and we will see ourselves differently. Look to today’s gospel: Jesus set his face toward Jerusalem. Not only was Jesus’ perspective changed, others saw this change. The Samaritans did not receive him. And, his disciples wanted to make bad things happen to that village. “No, no” said Jesus – and they continued forward.
Some will wish that change and transition would not happen; some will turn their faces away. But, just as Jesus continued toward Jerusalem, we must continue forward, with the new clothes of attitude, obedience, love, peace - we must manifest the fruits of the spirit.
Do you dare to follow Jesus? In the last words of the gospel, Jesus tells us that the time is now – not later when we have worked out all the details and achieved them – but now. Not after we have said farewell to those left behind, but now. Our change of attitude, of perspective, of obedience, and of the Spirit is now.
The Psalm for today tells our story: I will cry aloud to God; in the day of my trouble I sought the Lord – our work and our meetings are begun with prayer to God. I remember the works of the Lord; I will meditate on all your acts – we have remembered Elijah and Elisha and how they shed the old and took on the new.
You are the God who works wonders; by your strength you have redeemed your people! We are the redeemed people. We are the inheritors of a double share of Elijah’s spirit; through the strength of God who redeems us, we receive the Spirit and go forth t in God’s name for we, St. Anne’s Church, are the people of God.