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February 12, 2021

“As they continued walking and talking, a chariot of fire and horses of fire separated the two of them, and Elijah ascended in a whirlwind into heaven.” 2 Kings 2:11

The church sings to tell God’s story, to the world and to itself. A wonderful result is that when we hear scripture read, our minds supply notes. This Sunday’s passage from 2 Kings, read for Transfiguration, provides just such a moment for me. I cannot hear or read this passage without humming the ascending line from near the end of Mendelssohn’s Elijah: “He went by a whirlwind to heaven, he went by a whirlwind to heaven.”

The ascending notes are drilled into my mind because my high school choir sang (most of ) Elijah. As a bass in the choir at Appleton West, I learned these notes that have reinforced the church’s song. This particular moment in the piece is profound, as the music itself seems to carry Elijah up and away from Elisha. I still have the 1991 recording by Sir Neville Marriner and The Academy & Chorus of St. Martin in the Fields; in fact, I’m listening to it right now.

Elijah comes back down this Sunday. He and Moses join Jesus on the Mount of Transfiguration, bearing witness to the glory of Christ. As we sing the church’s song that lifts our hearts to God, may we see again the God that comes down to us.

Be well, friends. You are loved.

God of glory, thank you for the witness of the prophets. Their faithfulness in difficult times inspires us today. Stir in us again the song of the gospel, that we might bear witness to the world and to one another. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Image: Elijah carried away into heaven by a chariot of fire, James Tissot, between 1896 and 1902 (public domain).

From → COVID-19

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