Trinity 2


Lord, you have taught us that all our doings without love are nothing worth: send your Holy Spirit and pour into our hearts that most excellent gift of love, the true bond of peace and of all virtues, without which whoever lives is counted dead before you. Grant this for your only Son Jesus Christ’s sake, who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.


Faithful Creator, whose mercy never fails: deepen our faithfulness to you and to your living Word, Jesus Christ our Lord.

Post Communion

Loving Father, we thank you for feeding us at the supper of your Son: sustain us with your Spirit, that we may serve you here on earth until our joy is complete in heaven, and we share in the eternal banquet with Jesus Christ our Lord.


Old Testament

Then the Lord said to him, ‘Go, return on your way to the wilderness of Damascus; when you arrive, you shall anoint Hazael as king over Aram. Also you shall anoint Jehu son of Nimshi as king over Israel; and you shall anoint Elisha son of Shaphat of Abel-meholah as prophet in your place.

So he set out from there, and found Elisha son of Shaphat, who was ploughing. There were twelve yoke of oxen ahead of him, and he was with the twelfth. Elijah passed by him and threw his mantle over him. He left the oxen, ran after Elijah, and said, ‘Let me kiss my father and my mother, and then I will follow you.’ Then Elijah said to him, ‘Go back again; for what have I done to you?’ He returned from following him, took the yoke of oxen, and slaughtered them; using the equipment from the oxen, he boiled their flesh, and gave it to the people, and they ate. Then he set out and followed Elijah, and became his servant.

1 Kings 19.15–16,19–21


1    Preserve me, O God, for in you have I taken refuge;
I have said to the Lord, ‘You are my lord, all my good depends on you.’

2    All my delight is upon the godly that are in the land,
upon those who are noble in heart.

3    Though the idols are legion that many run after,
their drink offerings of blood I will not offer,
neither make mention of their names upon my lips.

4    The Lord himself is my portion and my cup;
in your hands alone is my fortune.

5    My share has fallen in a fair land;
indeed, I have a goodly heritage.

6    I will bless the Lord who has given me counsel,
and in the night watches he instructs my heart.

7    I have set the Lord always before me;
he is at my right hand; I shall not fall.

8    Wherefore my heart is glad and my spirit rejoices;
my flesh also shall rest secure.

9    For you will not abandon my soul to Death,
nor suffer your faithful one to see the Pit.

10    You will show me the path of life; in your presence is the fullness of joy
and in your right hand are pleasures for evermore.

Psalm 16


For freedom Christ has set us free. Stand firm, therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery. For you were called to freedom, brothers and sisters; only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for self-indulgence, but through love become slaves to one another. For the whole law is summed up in a single commandment, ‘You shall love your neighbour as yourself.’ If, however, you bite and devour one another, take care that you are not consumed by one another. Live by the Spirit, I say, and do not gratify the desires of the flesh. For what the flesh desires is opposed to the Spirit, and what the Spirit desires is opposed to the flesh; for these are opposed to each other, to prevent you from doing what you want. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not subject to the law. Now the works of the flesh are obvious: fornication, impurity, licentiousness, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, anger, quarrels, dissensions, factions, envy, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these. I am warning you, as I warned you before: those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. By contrast, the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against such things. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also be guided by the Spirit.

Galatians 5.1,13–25


When the days drew near for him to be taken up, he set his face to go to Jerusalem. And he sent messengers ahead of him. On their way they entered a village of the Samaritans to make ready for him; but they did not receive him, because his face was set towards Jerusalem. When his disciples James and John saw it, they said, ‘Lord, do you want us to command fire to come down from heaven and consume them?’ But he turned and rebuked them. Then they went on to another village.

As they were going along the road, someone said to him, ‘I will follow you wherever you go.’ And Jesus said to him, ‘Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.’ To another he said, ‘Follow me.’ But he said, ‘Lord, first let me go and bury my father.’ But Jesus said to him, ‘Let the dead bury their own dead; but as for you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God.’ Another said, ‘I will follow you, Lord; but let me first say farewell to those at my home.’ Jesus said to him, ‘No one who puts a hand to the plough and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.’

Luke 9.51–62

Sermon on Sunday, Trinity 2

As they were going along the road, someone said to him, ‘I will follow you wherever you go.’ … ‘Lord, first let me go and bury my father.’ But Jesus said to him, ‘Let the dead bury their own dead; but as for you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God.’

“Let the dead bury the dead,” is a saying everyone knows, and we have sometimes even used it ourselves, haven’t we? But this contrasts starkly with what we read in the OT.

Elijah passed by him and threw his mantle over him. He left the oxen, ran after Elijah, and said, ‘Let me kiss my father and my mother, and then I will follow you.’ Then Elijah said to him, ‘Go back again; for what have I done to you?’

Elijah allows Elisha to go home and say good bye to his parents. In fact, I think you could say he actually encourages Elisha to do so with his words, “What have I done for you?” He has only thrown his mantle over him. What difference does that make? What significance could that have? I think the importance is in the fact that Elisha needs to make a clean break, just as the disciples do. Elijah and Jesus both know that when we follow him, we have to be fully aware of our decision.

We all use the phrase “taking on the mantle” or “passing on the mantle” when we refer to the next person who steps into a particular role after another. So Elisha is to take on Elijah’s role as prophet. Does Elisha understand what he is about to do? When he departs from his family, does he really understand the importance of the work that lies ahead – or just what it could cost him?

In his enthusiasm, I don’t think he does. In his eagerness to follow Elijah, he gives up everything. He says good-bye to his old life – literally and figuratively. He has kissed his parents. With that kiss he has cut himself off from his old life as a labourer in the family firm in order to turn and follow Elijah. Elisha actually runs after Elijah in order to follow him. – How many times do we recall anyone actually running in the bible? The beloved disciple in the gospel is the one instance I can immediately think of. And in that story running is such a contrast to the stately progress Jesus is pictured making through the holy land of his ministry. Here we have the excitement of a future being offered, don’t we? And Elisha is keen to take up his role with Elijah. He knows its import, doesn’t he? Even if he does not understand all its future implications.

Like those fresh-faced disciples who have left their nets to follow Jesus, Elisha takes steps that cannot be reversed. He sacrifices the oxen and prepares them over a fire made with their equipment, a feast prepared for everyone. There was no turning back. After all, Elisha has burnt all the wealth he had and given it away in that feast. He has given this farewell banquet and he has kissed his parents. Elisha was off – he was running after Elijah whose mantle was now his to wear.

Why did the prophet allow this young man to say farewell? Why did Jesus
allow his disciples to make peace with their past in the form of friends and families? Instead of a fond farewell, the disciples were to drop everything and follow Jesus without a word.

Elijah let Elisha make a break from his past. Elijah wants Elisha to depart consciously into a new life, the life of a prophet. And, I think, Elijah wants everyone around Elisha to realise just what a change is about to occur. By holding this farewell banquet, Elisha makes it very clear that all has changed – for everyone.

Jesus is telling his disciples the same thing, but he does not want them to look to the past. He wants the dead to bury their dead. His disciples are to live into the future, and, I think, he is telling them that the future kingdom has nothing to do with grasping onto the past. Like the zen master, the enlightened teacher, Jesus wants his disciples to live in the moment, to live life in all its fullness.

But let’s return to the story. We read, “and you shall anoint Elisha as prophet in your place.” There is no question about what is to happen. Elijah has given over his mantle to Elisha, and the role of prophet of Israel is to pass from Elijah to Elisha. There is no doubt, is there? “This is the word of the Lord,” as they so often say. In other words, there can be no doubt.

Elijah is commanded to anoint leaders in the kingdoms of Aram and Israel, and he is told to provide his successor. This is a very active event in the lives of Elijah’s contemporaries. The people need rulers and a prophet and Elijah provides – at the Lord’s command.

This is not something that is done to Israel, but it is something that has been prepared. It might be unexpected, but everyone living under the Law and the Prophets knows that each one of them must be prepared and must prepare for the future. – Hazael becomes king over Aram, and  Jehu son of Nimshi becomes king over Israel. There seems to be no dispute, does there? We don’t hear in the narrative that there was any bickering about these new rulers. How unlike the leaders of our time! Today everyone wonders about the moral leadership of the country. Do any of the political parties inspire a prophetic impetus to our collective decisions? Will our leaders choose what is right rather than the convenient and less expensive options at hand? Instead of monetary considerations, will we choose the moral option? – Will our leaders make an ethical choice for what the philosopher calls the highest good?

These are questions which should exercise us, just as they must have vexed the people of Elijah’s time. What is the morally right thing to do in any circumstance? Today we seem to choose the facile and less expensive alternative as the preferred option. I don’t imagine Elijah or Jesus think in this way. – Do you? – We are in a sea of trouble and we must set our true course to the Kingdom.

We are faced with difficulties because we should make the ethical choice each and every moment. We are steering our way into dangerous and chaotic waters ahead, as we know from the news every day. We all have to plunge forward into the future, preserving that future for future generations. To do that we must take our course by the moral compass.

We have a very practical problem facing us today, just as Elisha and the disciples did in their days. Ours is a mundane problem. We must prepare for the vacancy in our parishes. With the retirement of Bill Boon, we have to start anew relying on ourselves and each other because there will be an absence of formal leadership within the benefice. What course will we take? Will we have the enthusiasm of Elisha and the disciples to run after our Lord to make those very hard decisions in order to live our lives in all their fullness? How will life in all its fullness be pursued by the faithful of this benefice in the future?

The real question for me is this – Will we be able to take on the mantle which Bill is throwing over our shoulders at this very moment?


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