Ordinary Time: Proper 8

Elijah on the Fiery Chariot by Unknown Artist — 39 x 25 inches, 16th century, Tretyakov Gallery in Moscow, Russia.

June 26, 2022 Lectionary Texts — Year C
2 Kings 2:1-2, 6-14
Psalm 77:1-2, 11-20
1 Kings 19:15-16, 19-21
Psalm 16
Galatians 5:1, 13-25
Luke 9:51-62

View Lectionary

…and Elisha abandoned his oxen and chased after Elijah.
Elisha: Before I leave, allow me to tell my parents goodbye, and then I will journey with you.
Elijah: Go then. Tell them goodbye. What have I done to you?
Elisha returned, but not to his parents. He killed his oxen, then he used the equipment (harness, yoke, and reigns) to prepare a fire and cook all the ox meat. He offered the food to everyone, and they feasted. Elisha then joined Elijah and became his apprentice.
1 Kings 19:20-21

A Third Volunteer: I’ll come, Jesus. I’ll follow You. But just let me first run home to say good-bye to my family.
Jesus: Listen, if your hand is on the plow but your eyes are looking backward, then you’re not fit for the kingdom of God.
Luke 9:61-62

The lectionary provides a beautiful way of helping us compare and contrast Scripture passages. I love this. We receive this week the story of Elisha being called by Elijah who requests to go say goodbye to his parents but then changes his mind, burns his equipment and sacrifices his team of oxen to follow Elijah. Elisha exhibits the same level commitment when the time of Elijah’s departure grows near. He refuses to leave Elijah’s side. Compare and contrast these with Jesus’ stories of excuses encouraging great commitment to following him.
The icon I have selected features the incredible event of Elijah’s departure and so wonderfully conveys Elisha’s commitment to his mentor. Elisha is literally hanging on to Elijah’s cloak as the vibrant fiery red mandorla (a circle or semi-circle shape symbolizing an opening between the realms of heaven and earth) opens to take Elijah up into heaven. When contemplated with the words of Christ from the Luke passage, this icon gives us a visual metaphor of the fervent follower Jesus desires.
I find another metaphor between the Elijah-Elisha story and the Gospel text in Elijah’s cloak. It is the object passed on from Elijah to Elisha and with it the power of Elijah is given to Elisha. This reminds me of the Spirit given to those who followed Christ upon his departure from them.
I hope you will enjoy digging into the texts and this week’s image as I have. I am adding this icon to my list of subjects I would like to creatively explore.

Practicing Visio Divina:

  1. View the artwork
    What do you see?

    Note shapes – color – style – movement
    What stands out for you?
    What are you curious about?
    What questions do you have?
    Hold back any feelings – judgments – opinions
  2. Read the accompanying scripture and look over the artwork again
    What connections do you make?

    Between the image and text?
    What is coming to mind from your own experience?
    What feelings are rising in you?
    Are you uncomfortable with something?
    There are no right or wrong answers
  3. Read the scripture again and explore the artwork a third time
    What do you hear?

    What is God saying to you?
    What do you wish to speak to God?
    What blessing or prayer is rising in you?

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