“Bless this food, O Lord,
and us to thy service,
and keep us ever mindful of the needs of others.”

My mother regularly offered this prayer before we ate when I was growing up. The food was always a blessing. At the time I thought little about the next two phrases.

Now I am “ever mindful of the needs of others.” Those who come to visit me at the church do not come to share joyful news, but a perplexing need in their life. Those whom I visit in their homes or hospital or care facility have even more dire needs. Add to those reminders of the needs of others comes every hour of every day through news and social media reports from every corner all around the globe.

At times I have wondered if my call to service is really a blessing. Pastor’s do not really get time off. If someone is sick or dying, I get called no matter how many hours I have put in that week. I have provided pastoral care by phone while on vacation from the Painted Desert and answered administrative questions from the Grand Canyon. Worse is the call to service in the larger Church, working with congregations in the midst of conflict resulting in the termination of pastors or closing a church.

Butterfly emergingElijah had tried to warn his student Elisha about the difficulty of being God’s blessing. Yet Elisha had persisted in his request for a double portion of what he might inherit from Elijah. This “double portion” was not a request for twice the charisma of Elijah, but for two shares of what Elisha would bequeath to his heirs. In ancient Israel each son would normally receive a share of the inheritance with the eldest son receiving a double portion, so that eldest son might retain a plot large enough to continue the family business.

I will have more to say about 2 Kings 2:1-14 and personal transformation to service at 8:15 AM and 10:00 AM on Sunday February 11th, at Temple Terrace Presbyterian Church.

A Tip for Parents

Mark 9:2-9, our Gospel lesson for this Sunday, tells of Jesus’ transformation.

I remember Superman who spent his days as a mild mannered reporter, Clark Kent. Then would step into a phone booth and change into Superman, showing his true self. This story tells of Jesus briefly showing his true self to his disciples, before warning them not to tell anyone.

Help your child think of God as being always near us, ready to help, even when we do not recognize him.