category: Advent

Advent Reflection: Day 17

Tuesday,  December 15

2 Kings 2:9–22; Acts 3:17–4:4

How do you know what to believe when it comes to faith, society, politics, or other important issues? This is a question I have found myself rhetorically asking more than ever over the past year. Should we blindly follow the direction of our pastor? Or our preferred political party? Or perhaps the staunch beliefs of our elders? In some cases, relying on the guidance of others whose opinions we respect is a good thing. Hopefully, we have allowed those people to have influence in our lives because their beliefs have been carefully cultivated over time. However, in an increasingly polarized world, how do we decide what to think and believe to be the right thing and not just the “right” person’s opinion?

Elisha knew that his mentor, the prophet Elijah, was preparing to leave him. When asked what he would like to inherit from Elijah, Elisha did not ask for the power to work miracles, or knowledge of the future, or even a physical emblem to display his position as Elijah’s successor. Instead, Elisha asked for a double share of Elijah’s spirit. In the Hebrew, Elisha’s request could be translated as “may God breathe God’s ruach into my mouth twice.” Elijah is taken away, and Elisha returns to a guild of prophets gathered at Jericho. They can tell immediately that the Spirit of God, the very same Spirit that was upon Elijah, is now upon Elisha. It was a presence they were distinctively able to sense.

In Acts, Peter and John heal a lame man who had spent his life begging at the Temple gates. The man joyously celebrates his healing and dances around the Temple complex. Naturally, activity from a man the people knew to be lame draws a crowd. Peter addresses the crowd and asks why they are so surprised that the God who breathed the breath of life into creation has also breathed his healing Spirit into this man. Peter continues and tells the crowd that he knows they have acted in ignorance, as have their rulers. But now that they are reminded what the Spirit of God can do, they can no longer claim ignorance. Now they must decide for themselves what and in whom they will believe. However, they do not have to make that distinction alone. The presence of the Spirit of God brings “times of refreshing.” Just as the company of prophets could sense the presence of the Spirit of God upon Elisha, just as the people around the Temple could tell a change in the lame man, so too can the Spirit of God bring clarity and refreshment to our thoughts, words, and deeds. So, when we long for guidance, for clarity, for times of refreshing, let us search our own hearts for the presence of the Spirit of God, and when we look to others for guidance, may we earnestly search for those who emulate that same Spirit.

Rachael Bradley
Admin Asst. for the Dept. of Communications and New Media

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