Day Eighteen: Where Loyalty May Lead Us

Psalm 125
Malachi 3:16-4:6
Mark 9:9-13

Our readings from Malachi and Mark today both make mention again of the prophet Elijah:

  1. Malachi, in preparing the people for the Day of Judgement in which all evil will be destroyed while the faithful enjoy the warm sunshine of God’s deliverance,  refers to a powerful prophet (Elijah) who will come to call future generations to love and respect one another in accordance with the laws and decrees given to the nation of Israel by Moses so many years ago;
  2. while Jesus, in coming down the mountain from a miraculous moment of affirmation and transfiguration, explains to his bewildered disciples that John the Baptist had already done Elijah’s job of heralding the Messiah … and suffered for it –
    “But I tell you, Elijah has come, and they have done to him everything they wished, just as it is written about him,” (Mark 9:13).

Elijah …

… on the one hand, a powerful prophet who defied kings and foreign gods, who walked closely with God, and who was taken up into heaven …

… on the other hand, a man always on the run, reliant on God’s divine provision for water and for food in a prolonged time of scarcity and struggle; discouraged, exhausted, wanting to die ….

John the Baptist: the messenger who would prepare the way for the Lord in the spirit and the strength of Elijah (Luke 1:17), promised to be a blessing to his parents and a source of joy to many; arrested, imprisoned, beheaded for speaking truth and holding on to what was right (Matthew 14:10) ….

There are definite benefits to having our names recorded on Malachi’s scroll of remembrance as one of God’s faithful followers:
eternal life with God,
victory over sin and death,
God’s protection and provision,
the Holy Spirit as our constant companion,
true and lasting transformation – from the inside out,
a sense of purpose and significance etc.

But the choice of a Christian life and a lasting legacy is not without cost!

Just ask the bearers of the good news like Elijah and John, or the martyrs of the early church; or reflect for a moment on the piercing question that Jesus asks,

“Why then is it written that the Son of Man must suffer much and be rejected?” Mark 9:12

To share in the exaltation of Christ is to share in his suffering;
to share in his resurrection is to willingly enter into the place of death and emerge as a new creation;
to share in his message of all-embracing love is to open ourselves up to the probability of mockery, rejection, and persecution.

Today’s response is based on a poem by Herbert Brokering and Scott Noon about a people who were longing to be new and in tune with their souls so, at least once a year, they would lie down on the ground, curled up and small, and picture themselves returning to the centre of all that is God’s.

As we enter the song of the Spirit, we are challenged to do so knowing that the life we will lead will not always be an easy one; that we are, in fact, opening ourselves up to the possibility of brokenness and pain, as Christ did for our sake.

Today, I invite you to curl up on the floor in a little ball, to lie quite still, and then – as you offer to God your worries, your objections, your doubts, your questions, your surrender, your prayers for protection and guidance – to allow God to “unfurl” you into the promise and power of rebirth, of new life.       

Day Seventeen: The Legacy We Long For

Psalm 125
2 Kings 2:9-22
Acts 3:17-4:4

One of the most sobering realisations for me as a parent is that I’m leaving my greatest legacy behind right now in the way I influence my children, for bad or for good.

How I pray and make time for God,
speak to my husband,
respond to authority,
encourage responsibility for household tasks,
spend my money,
articulate my values,
behave in a crowded parking lot,
admit my struggles and weaknesses,
say I’m sorry …

… it all has a monumental impact on
the adults that they are growing into,
the relationships that they will pursue,
and they way in which they, in turn, will raise their children.

Legacy. It’s not as much about what we leave when we die, as it is what we instil in the world around us while we are living.

And that impact, though small or seemingly insignificant at the time, can be passed down from generation to generation to generation.

In today’s Old Testament reading, the powerful prophet, Elijah, is asked by his younger travelling companion, Elisha, for a “double portion” of his spirit as an inheritance when Elijah is taken away by the Lord (verse 9). He is asking, in essence, for the blessings and privileges of an eldest son: permission to carry on Elijah’s ministry.

In his reply, Elijah indicates that he has no right or power to give God’s gift to someone else, but he knows that should Elisha witness his ascension into heaven, it would be a sign that God had, indeed, passed the prophet’s mantle on to this young man (verse 10).

“Where now is the Lord, the God of Elijah?” Elisha asks, striking the river Jordan with Elijah’s fallen cloak.

“Resting on Elisha,” the water replies with its parting (verse 14).

“Where now is the Lord, the God of Elijah?” the people of Jericho ask as they point to the foul spring water that is poisoning their land.

“Resting on Elisha,” the water replies as it is purified by salt and a powerful proclamation of healing which holds true even to this day (verses 21-22).

Likewise, the words of the apostle Peter on trial before the ruling council for performing an act of healing outside the temple are about choosing the legacy that they long for.

On the one hand is the legacy of ignorance through which they disowned and killed the author of life; on the other, the legacy of prophets and of the covenant that God had made with their forefathers: to be a blessing to all people by turning from their wicked ways (verses 17 and 25-26).

We, too, are heirs of the prophets; recipients of an ancient and eternal covenant with a Holy and Mighty God who will, one day, restore everything to order.

The choice, too, is ours: to shroud ourself in blissful ignorance, or to take up a prophetic mantle and become agents of liberation and healing in this generation and the next and the next ….

Today, if possible, throw a few pebbles into a pond and watch how far the ripples reach ….

Reflect on yourself as a pebble cast out into the centre of your family, your community, your country, your world.

What is the legacy you are leaving? What is the legacy that you long to leave?