Blessing of Elijah

If You See Me As I Am Being Taken
Image: If You See Me As I Am Being Taken © Jan L. Richardson

Reading from the Hebrew Scriptures, Pentecost +6, Year C: 2 Kings 2.1-2, 6-14

He picked up the mantle of Elijah that had fallen from him,
and went back and stood on the bank of the Jordan.
– 2 Kings 2.13

This month marks twenty years that I have been in ministry. In June of 1993, after finishing seminary, I moved back to Florida and became the associate pastor of St. Luke’s United Methodist Church in Orlando. Twenty years and a couple of appointments later, I marvel and celebrate that I have managed to stay this long in Orlando, and that, even as I have remained, my ministry has taken me far down wondrous paths that I could hardly have imagined at the outset.

Gary and I are recently back from Annual Conference, where a number of our friends and colleagues were licensed, commissioned, or ordained for ministry. As I watched the ordinations—hands laid upon heads, stoles laid upon shoulders—I remembered my own ordination, and those who stood with me: my sponsors Bill Barnes and Bishop Charlene Kammerer, along with a circle of others (including many from the communion of saints) who mentored and mantled me for ministry.

Whether or not we are ordained, we are part of a lineage. We are here because someone—most likely many someones—told us a story that compelled us and called us to follow in the way of Christ. I offer gratitude for those who told the story to me, who lived the story for me, and who continue to provide strength and sustenance and guidance for my path. I offer prayers for those exploring a call to ministry and those newly entering ministry. For all of us, whatever shape our ministry takes, I offer this blessing in hopes that we will take up the mantle again and again, claiming it anew and walking with wisdom and hope, telling the story as we go.

Blessing of Elijah

Make no mistake.
This blessing that comes
like hands laid
upon your head,
a mantle draped
across your shoulders:
you do not bear it
alone.

Think of it
as lineage,
as litany:
an ancient legacy
entwining you among the strands
that weave through
generations and centuries,
that spiral with
the enduring and
determined grace
of the story that has
seized you,
and the One
who has claimed
and called you.

Take heart
that this blessing
comes to you
singed and
scorched,
signed by the blazing
of wonders
you can barely imagine
and by trials
that have already tested you,
or you would not
have found your way
this far.

Lay it down,
and it will be a path for you
across terrain
you never imagined
daring to cross.

Take it up,
and know the presence
of those who have passed this
on to you:
who encompass you
who enfold you
who go with you
and release you
into the keeping
of the road
that is your own
and the One
who has called
your name.


P.S.
 Please come visit our Art + Faith page on Facebook! Gary and I would love for you to stop by, “like” the page, and be part of the creative conversation that’s unfolding there. And be sure to check out this summer’s Liturgical Arts Weeks at the Grünewald Guild—classes are filling fast, and we’d be delighted to save you a spot! For a glimpse of the Guild, visit this post: Where Heaven and Earth Meet.

Using Jan’s artwork…
To use the image “If You See Me As I Am Being Taken,” please visit this page at janrichardsonimages.com. Your use of janrichardsonimages.com helps make the ministry of The Painted Prayerbook possible. Thank you!

Using Jan’s words…
For worship services and related settings, you are welcome to use Jan’s blessings or other words from this blog without requesting permission. All that’s needed is to acknowledge the source. If you’re using them in a worship bulletin, please include this info in a credit line:
© Jan L. Richardson. janrichardson.com.

To use Jan’s work in other settings (books and other publications, etc.), please visit Copyright Permissions.

9 Responses to “Blessing of Elijah”

  1. Alexander Shaia Says:

    Both the image and your words are exquisite. Each Christian Arabic family has a patron – using from the Hebrew scriptures. My paternal side honors Elijah or Elias in Arabic. His element is fire and the image and words so express his gift and expression. Thank you.

    • Jan Richardson Says:

      Alexander, thank you! How lovely to know your family connection with Elijah/Elias. Many blessings and much gratitude to you.

  2. Carol Says:

    Thank you, Jan, for your beautiful images in both paint and word. So good to recall those saints that have led and held us on our way, and to think ahead to those who will follow and carry on the ministry that is so much vaster than we can ever think or imagine. Thanks be to God for the communion of saints cheering us all on!

  3. Anne Rawls Says:

    Jan, thank you for your lovely words this morning as I begin a rather busy day. My day started with reading from your Sacred Journey and now ÿour own story. Beautiful reminders of God’s grace. Thank you for all that you do. Anne Rawls

  4. Carolyn Says:

    I am proud to say ‘I knew you when’, to offer back to you unspoken blessings.

    Such a treasure, this; thank you Jan.

    • Jan Richardson Says:

      Carolyn, thank you! I am so grateful for the gift of your words, the treasure of your long friendship, and the unspoken blessings gratefully received.

  5. Judith Brady Says:

    As my husband and I were seated at our ordination service, Friday June 28th, our daughter sent us a text with a link to your “Blessing of Elijah”. We began reflecting on the testings, the trials, and the blessing of those who have touched our lives thru the years. What a memorable moment it was as we walked upon the platform, together, to receive our ordination certificates, along with the laying of hands by our Bishop. I thank our daughter, Angela Griner, from Orlando, for her thoughtfulness and you for writing the, Blessing of Elijah, that was shared on this precious path that God had lead us.

    Our daughter wrote a bog that you might enjoy, http://angelagriner.blogspot.com/2013/06/happy-belated-ordination-mom.html

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