Potsdam United Methodist Church
Where we let Jesus shine! Where we invite, love and nurture ALL!
Sunday Worship
11:00am Service
Pastor Heidi R. Chamberlain
Information info@potsdamumc.org

Loyalty Stories

February 15:

Call:       2 Kings 2: 1-12
Reading:    W&S #56
Text:       Mark 9: 2-9
Closing:    2 Corinthians 4: 5-6

I have always prized loyalty.

If I find a bank I like and which treats me well,
I stay with it.
If I find someone who does a good job cutting my hair
    I stay with him or her.
If I am happy with my telephone
I don't go looking for a newer, fancier model

This past summer I had a tire damaged beyond repair
    And that put me in a quandary

Since moving to the North Country,
    I have purchased all my tires from a fellow in Massena
        And I have been pleased with him
Since moving to Potsdam
    I have had all my mechanical work done by one garage
        And I have been pleased.

My garage offered to sell me a new tire
    And, recognizing that I just didn't have much of a chance to get to Massena,
        Finally agreed to purchase it from them.

But I felt guilty
almost like I was cheating on my tire dealer in Massena.

And because I prize loyalty so much I guess that is why
    I am so moved by the story Garrett read from 2 Kings.
    For it is about the loyalty of a follower.

You heard it.   God was preparing to take Elijah up to heaven

So Elijah told his follower Elisha to remain in Gilgal

But Elisha responded,
    "As the Lord lives and as you live,
    I won't leave you."
So Elisha walked with Elijah to Bethel

There Elisha was again told that God was going to take Elijah up
    And Elijah again told him to remain where he was.

And again Elisha responded,
    "As the Lord lives and as you live,
    I won't leave you."
And so Elisha walked with Elijah to Jericho

At Jericho, Elijah once more told Elisha to remain where he was
And once more Elisha responded
        "As the Lord lives and as you live
        I won't leave you."
And so Elisha walked with Elijah to the Jordan.
    Where Elijah rolled up his coat
        Causing the waters to separate
    And Allowing the two to walk across on dry land.

On the other side Elijah asked his loyal follower,
    "What do you want me to do for you before I am taken away from you?"

Elisha did not ask for money or riches
Elisha did not ask for power or fame
    Instead, Elisha asked for and received twice Elijah's spirit.

Then Elijah was taken up
His coat or mantle falling to Elisha
    Who picked it up    Hit the waters with it
And like they had for his mentor,       the waters parted
    In a sign that he had received what he asked for.

Elisha had refused to walk away from the one he followed
While traveling from Gilgal to Bethel to Jericho to the Jordan

And then, in this concluding act of loving loyalty,
When offered a gift
he did not act for a newer fancier mentor to replace Elijah
He asked instead for two doses of the spirit that he saw in Elijah
    So that he too could serve God.
    By carrying on his mentor's work.

But with furrowed brow and inquisitive mind, you ask,
Why is this OT story a part of our celebration
of the NT story of the Transfiguration?

And why have we started with it
    Rather than with the Transfiguration story.

This is, after all, Transfiguration Sunday.
And that means that we should be talking about Jesus
    Going up that mountain
    Standing there with those other two guys
        And glowing     as the voice spoke.
You are right.  You are right.

But there is more to the story
    Than glowing on the mountain.

First we know those "other two guys" were
Elijah himself -    Who represents the prophets
    As Moses - the other guy - represents the Law

They are there to provide both visual and verbal reminders
That Jesus fulfills Both the prophets and the law.

I do not believe that this story about Elijah
    Is linked with the Transfiguration
 only because he was one of the "Two Guys."
I believe that it is so linked
Because it marks the end of Elijah's time on earth.

And as such provides Elisha with a chance
    To set example of loyalty by taking up Elijah's work
    An example, that is
First for the disciples     and now for us.

Now let's hear the transfiguration story    [Mark 9: 2-9]

We all know this story
    In the last ten years we have heard it ten times
        Three times each from Matthew and Luke
        As of today,    four times from Mark

For it is in each of those gospels
    And it tells of the disciples coming to know
    That Jesus is Lord
    And indeed that he fulfills both the law and the prophets.

And we can take that as     just a fact
    A fact that seems almost historical
    Rather than theologically impressive
        To us in the 21st century.

But this story is marked by the presence of Peter, James, and John
    Three people who are going to have their chance
        To show their loving loyalty in the upcoming future

They are there to be prepared for that opportunity
    By seeing the glowing presence of the trio
    By hearing the voice from heaven
    By being moved to fright and awe.

They are not there to build shrines.

They are there to be told to listen to Jesus
    The one who is the Son of God
    The one whom is dearly loved by God.

I believe that listening to Jesus means
    That they are told to be loyal to him and his teachings
        even when they might have made a decision different from what Jesus tells them to do
even when what Jesus tells them to do is hard
    even when what Jesus tells them to do is unpopular or requires sacrifice
And     even when Jesus is gone

For they must       take up his cross and continue his work.

The three disciples on that mountain must stick with and follow Jesus
        Not just
from Gilgal to Bethel to Jericho and to the Jordan
But as they are ultimately told at his ascension
to Jerusalem, all Judea, and Samaria,
to the ends of the earth
        and even to the cross
        Where they will have the true opportunity for loyalty
        Taking up his work and making it their own

And so these stories are packaged together
    On this Sunday before the Lenten season
        When we recommit ourselves to
listening to and following Jesus
and trying to be like him.

That is the kind of loyalty that we need
    If we are to call ourselves Christians.

For as Joshua succeeded Moses
As Elisha succeeded Elijah
As the disciples succeed Jesus
    You and I succeed the disciples.

We too have to listen to him
We too have to love him and be loyal to him.