I can never read this text without my anger showing toward Jesus. The disciple can’t pause long enough to bury his father?! Doesn’t discipleship include the work of burying the dead? After all, Jesus said, “Blessed are those who mourn” (Matt. 5:4).
I was nineteen when I fell on my mom’s body, weeping and clinging onto the warmth that still lingered in her skin. The dirt under my fingernails as we buried her ashes taught me more than anything else about who I want to be and what discipleship looks like.
So, yes, part of me still wants to yell at Jesus.
However, stories change on the page depending on our perspective. Years have passed since I buried my mother, and now my life is filled with the clutter of crayons and caterpillars and children crying in the night. When I read the scripture text, I am no longer the disciple being called but the parent who is being left behind.
I look at my four- and seven-year-old and wonder what I would want for them in that moment. I think I would want to sing out, “Leave my old bones and go dance along the road you were born to travel!”
My prayer for my children echoes the gospel and the work I have to do as I tend and nurture their hearts: Trust your conscience and discernment. Do not be afraid of urgency or risk. Do not depend on security, but put your trust in love, joy, and a cry for justice along the journey. And always know that there will be family and community ready to love you when the dusty roads lead back home.
O God, let your embryonic waters flow through us as we grab one another’s hands and join in the great journey of discipleship. Amen.
This week’s readings open with the dramatic scene of Elijah’s departure. As the prophet is taken into heaven by fiery chariots, his cloak falls to his successor, Elisha—symbolic of the continuation of God’s prophetic work. The psalmist praises the Lord’s mighty works of the past and finds encouragement in them. Paul reminds us that freedom in Christ comes with responsibility. We cannot live to satisfy our fleshly desires. If we live in the power of the Spirit, then our manner of life should stand out and bear godly fruit. In the Gospel reading, Jesus challenges his followers with the cost of discipleship. His statements here may seem extreme, but he is pointing out that we can be tempted to find excuses for not proclaiming the kingdom of God.
Read 2 Kings 2:1-2, 6-14. When has fire—real or metaphorical—changed your life? How have you seen God working in this change?
Read Psalm 77:1-2, 11-20. Recall a time when you needed God’s help. Where did you look for God’s encouragement?
Read Galatians 5:1, 13-25. Along with our freedom, we are given a responsibility. How do you use your freedom to serve others?
Read Luke 9:51-62. When have you heard Jesus’ call to follow? What have you had to leave behind to follow the one who has “set his face to go to Jerusalem”?
Respond by posting a prayer.
Whitney Simpson offers a wide-open doorway into embodied practice and awakens us to the long-held wisdom of our tradition that our bodies are sacred places where God meets us and dwells. Fully Human, Fully Divine is a true Christmas gift!”
Click here to learn more about our newest Advent book and eCourse.