52 Weeks at the Table – Week 26
When King Solomon passed away, Judah had been separated from the rest of Israel by their sin. It is a sorry succession of kings which follows the reign of Solomon – who himself had fallen prey to the temptations of wealth and wives, and had fallen into idolatry. Among these kings the Lord sent prophets and men of God (some good; some poor in character) to set them aright or just tell them of the doom they have earned. Elijah outshone them all, even though he, too, had moments of fear and doubt. At the close of his ministry, when the Lord was calling him home, he three times told his protege Elisha that he should stay while his master went on. Three times, the answer of the apprentice was “As surely as the LORD lives and as you live, I will not leave you.” When just before it came time to part – one on foot; one by fiery chariot in a whirlwind – the younger asked the elder to petition God for a double portion of His Spirit, and his request was granted. He took up the mantle of his master, and the ministry continued in power. (2 Kings 2)
At the end of Jesus’ recorded visits to his closest followers, He went to them in His resurrected body and met them fishing. Having already promised them His Spirit (John 16), His question of the one who had denied Him three times was also asked thrice: “Simon Peter, do you love me more than these [fish]?” Peter’s answer each time was essentially the same: “Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.” And Jesus told him to quit fishing and begin shepherding. It was not an assignment filled with promise, except for the promise of suffering as his Savior had suffered: “… when you are old you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go.” (John 21:15-23) Yet in just a few days, upon Peter and the other ten descended the Holy Spirit like a mantle of comfort and responsibility, and they took it up and continued Jesus’ ministry in renewed power. (Acts 2)
A Prayer Over the Bread
Heavenly Father of Elijah and Elisha, we pause at this table of our Master to give You thanksgiving and honor and praise for what You have promised and what You have given through Your Son. This bread, His body, reminds us of His devotion to us, and compels our devotion in return. We, like His closest ones, would rather that He had stayed – but know that it was for our good that He went away, leaving us His Spirit; empowering us to perpetuate His ministry; inspiring us to give glory to Your name. So in Jesus’ name we ask your blessing: Amen.
A Prayer Over the Cup
God of Israel and Judah; of Jesus and Peter, we ask your blessing on this cup, the blood of Your Christ. Through it we are given redemption and unity; because of it poured out we receive Your Spirit. Give us the power to eschew the idols in our lives: the gratification of self through power and wealth and pleasure. Give us the power of Your Spirit to enthrone You, the living God, and serve Him only. Like Peter, we would always confess our love for our Master. Like Elisha, we would insist on staying with Him, to whatever end. For He met the end that should have been ours, that we might see no end to life. So in Jesus’ name we make this request: Amen.