Stability: "I Will Not Leave You" (Last Epiphany, B)
2 Kings 2:1-12
When the Lord was about to take Elijah up to heaven by a whirlwind, Elijah and Elisha were on their way from Gilgal. Elijah said to Elisha, “Stay here; for the Lord has sent me as far as Bethel.” But Elisha said, “As the Lord lives, and as you yourself live, I will not leave you.” So they went down to Bethel. The company of prophets who were in Bethel came out to Elisha, and said to him, “Do you know that today the Lord will take your master away from you?” And he said, “Yes, I know; keep silent.”
Elijah said to him, “Elisha, stay here; for the Lord has sent me to Jericho.” But he said, “As the Lord lives, and as you yourself live, I will not leave you.” So they came to Jericho. The company of prophets who were at Jericho drew near to Elisha, and said to him, “Do you know that today the Lord will take your master away from you?” And he answered, “Yes, I know; be silent.”
Then Elijah said to him, “Stay here; for the Lord has sent me to the Jordan.” But he said, “As the Lord lives, and as you yourself live, I will not leave you.” So the two of them went on. Fifty men of the company of prophets also went, and stood at some distance from them, as they both were standing by the Jordan. Then Elijah took his mantle and rolled it up, and struck the water; the water was parted to the one side and to the other, until the two of them crossed on dry ground.
When they had crossed, Elijah said to Elisha, “Tell me what I may do for you, before I am taken from you.” Elisha said, “Please let me inherit a double share of your spirit.” He responded, “You have asked a hard thing; yet, if you see me as I am being taken from you, it will be granted you; if not, it will not.” As they continued walking and talking, a chariot of fire and horses of fire separated the two of them, and Elijah ascended in a whirlwind into heaven. Elisha kept watching and crying out, “Father, father! The chariots of Israel and its horsemen!” But when he could no longer see him, he grasped his own clothes and tore them in two pieces.
“Stability: I Will Not Leave You”
Last Sunday After Epiphany, B (February 11, 2018)
2 Kings 2:1-12
Summarize the story, highlighting Elisha’s persistence, and the blessing he received as a result of his persistence
Elisha: “As the Lord lives, and as you yourself live, I will not leave you.”
Elisha is a model of stability
Stability and obedience lead to conversion of life (Benedictine Promise)
We have many models of stability
Most parishioners here have lived in Savannah for a long time and don’t plan to leave. (stability in place)
Many have been members of St. Matthew’s for a long time, through many ups and downs (stability in community).
We have been blessed by many faithful parishioners who helped to shape St. Matthew’s into what it was and what it is today. The truth is, you know more about these local saints than I do, but I’ll share about one I hear about regularly: Mrs. Helen Fletcher.
She formed a whole generation of children through Sunday School. I don’t meet anyone who went through her class who doesn’t have a story about their time with Mrs. Fletcher. It wasn’t always fun, but these children learned the Lord’s Prayer and the Creeds and the Catechism of the Episcopal Church. These kids knew their stuff. And even the ones I meet who don’t really come to church anymore, they remember what they were taught, and they have a foundation for Christian faith that can never be taken away from them. And they all have Mrs. Fletcher to thank for her persistent, stable ministry of teaching and service to children.
We have seen more than one priest in our parish history who stayed in St. Matthew’s for over 25 years: Fr. Caution and Fr. Hoskins (stability in priesthood). Every priest has left an impression on St. Matthew’s, but the ones who stuck it out for the long haul left the deepest and most profound influence.
I never had the pleasure of meeting Fr. Caution, but I have heard plenty of stories about his demeanor, teaching, preaching, presiding, mentoring, home visits, and more.
I’ve gotten to know Fr. Hoskins a bit in my time in Savannah, but I have heard more substantial things about the fruits of his ministry from many of you. I notice that people carry very fond memories around Fr. Hoskins’ pastoral care and preparation in baptisms and weddings.
But even when all those other factors change, as they so often do, Anglicans have other ways to find stability. Episcopalians remain spiritually stable through our habits of common prayer, especially Eucharist and daily office.
The Eucharist is the primary way that the church gathers on Sundays. We give God thanks and praise, we hear Holy Scripture, we pray for the world, we confess our sins, we share peace and fellowship, and we receive God’s grace in the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ. In Eucharist, God gives us everything we need for a life of faith.
But the Daily Office is a further way of staying grounded in our love of God. Almost all Christians believe it’s good to read Scripture everyday, to praise God, to give thanks to God, and to pray for other people. There are lots of ways to go about doing that, but the way provided by the Episcopal Church is daily Morning Prayer and Evening Prayer.
These services are flexible enough for anyone to lead. They are short enough to be integrated into someone’s daily life. And the outline is simple enough that it can be adapted to the circumstances of your life.
But more importantly, the practice of praying the Daily Prayers of Church daily is stable. It grounds us and anchors us through the storms and trials of this life. Things are never so good or so bad that we cannot pray, “O God, make speed to save us,” and mean it! People need this kind of stability in prayer life in order to grow and mature, and Morning and Evening Prayer are the primary ways that the Episcopal Church practices that stability.
Beginning in Lent, expanded Evening Prayer schedule
Not a should, but an opportunity to encounter more grace in your daily life.
Meant to empower you to pray more even if you cannot make it church or we don’t have a public service.