2 Kings 2:6-14 offers a story of two great prophets, Elijah and Elisha, that is comparable to the great movies of our time such as ‘Lord of the Rings’, ‘Black Panther’, ‘Captain America’ and ‘The Avengers’: Here are some verses that offer a magical imagery: … Elijah said to Elisha, “Tell me, what can I do for you before I am taken from you?” “Let me inherit a double portion of your spirit,” Elisha replied. “You have asked a difficult thing,” Elijah said, “yet if you see me when I am taken from you, it will be yours—otherwise, it will not.” As they were walking along and talking together, suddenly a chariot of fire and horses of fire appeared and separated the two of them, and Elijah went up to heaven in a whirlwind. Elisha then picked up Elijah’s cloak that had fallen from him and went back and stood on the bank of the Jordan. He took the cloak that had fallen from Elijah and struck the water with it. “Where now is the Lord, the God of Elijah?” he asked. When he struck the water, it divided to the right and to the left, and he crossed over.
These cosmic and ecstatic images of chariots of fire, whirlwinds and Elijah being wrapped in a cloud and taken to heaven are symbols for the presence of God. The central image in the text is the mantle carried by
Elijah and inherited by Elisha. The mantle passing from one to another is a symbol of how the legacy of faith is carried through the generations.
The disciples who gathered around Elijah recognise Elisha as their new leader.
What we have in our congregation are Elijahs, faithful guides, advisors, teachers and wisdom keepers – mentors and potential mentors. We can be imaginative and experimental in our mentoring of Elishas who are to come. A great example of Elijah’s passing on the mantle to Elishas is Puccini. Giacomo Puccini's opera Turandot was finished by his students whom he had mentored – he died of cancer before the opera could be finished. It is a good example of passing on the mantle and the need to do so in community.
51 When the days drew near for him to be taken up, he set his face to go to Jerusalem. 52 And he sent messengers ahead of him. On their way they entered a village of the Samaritans to make ready for him; 53 but they did not receive him, because his face was set toward Jerusalem. 54 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?” 55 But he turned and rebuked them. 56 Then they went on to another village. 57 As they were going along the road, someone said to him, “I will follow you wherever you go.” 58 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.” 59 To another he said, “Follow me.” But he said, “Lord, first let me go and bury my father.” 60 But Jesus said to him, “Let the dead bury their own dead; but as for you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God.” 61 Another said, “I will follow you, Lord; but let me first say farewell to those at my home.” 62 Jesus said to him, “No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.”