From your pastor…
When they had crossed, Elijah said to Elisha, ‘Tell me what I may do for you, before I am taken from you.’ Elisha said, ‘Please let me inherit a double share of your spirit.’ You have asked a hard thing; yet, if you see me as I am being taken from you, it will be granted you.’…When he could no longer see him,…Elisha picked up the mantle of Elijah that had fallen from him, and went back and stood on the bank of the Jordan. (2 Kings 2: 9-13, NRSV)
This is a beautiful story of two prophets who loved each other, the elder prophet Elijah and the younger prophet Elisha. They both knew that Elijah’s time of ministry was coming to an end, and that day, Elijah would leave Elisha and go into God’s loving care forever. Elijah had been a faithful prophet of God, and he had spent time teaching and modeling for Elisha what it meant to serve God and to lead God’s people into faith and sincere righteousness. God had used Elijah to accomplish powerful deeds and even miracles. Elijah was well respected, and his mission was now coming to an end.
In my mind, I am still a young Elisha, ready to go out and minister to the whole world with God’s power. But in reality, I wonder, HOW AND WHEN did I become ELIJAH, the ELDER minister who has gray hair and lots of aches and pains? I can identify with what Jesus said to the disciples: “The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” (Matt. 26:41b) I have been serving in professional Christian ministry for 35 years. Now, my retirement is coming in just one more month. I could not have ministered well without the love, support, nurture, teaching and role modeling of many mentors. I am inviting several of them to our potluck dinner on June 30 so that you may meet them. They are my Elijahs! And I am so grateful to every one of them.
I have also become an Elijah. I have been a mentor for several ministers in the LA UMC Conference. I feel it is an honor to give back to others when I have received so much support and love. I am excited that you have an Elisha coming to be your pastor. Rev. Colleen will pick up the mantle, and I believe she will run and not grow weary, that God will bear her up on eagle’s wings, and together with you, beloved church family, you all will soar with God’s power and strength. My prayer for Rev. Colleen and for all of you is that you all be filled with a double portion of God’s Holy Spirit, to guide you and lead you forward from where you are now.
God has been my Source of life and joy and strength all of my life, and I trust God to lead me forward into retirement. Jeff will continue working full-time as a chaplain, and I will be resting, swimming, reading, and working toward improving my health. As I am able, I plan to get involved in ministry in a local church in the New Orleans District. Our potluck dinner on June 30 will be our retirement celebration, and Rev. Colleen will begin as your new pastor on July 1, 2019. Her first Sunday worship service will be July 7.
It is important that we pray for each other and for Rev. Colleen and Adam as they begin ministry with all of you here in beautiful Algiers. Keep on loving as Christ loves.