Academic journal article Anglican Theological Review

Claiming Elijah's Mantle: Young Adults and the Life of the Church

Academic journal article Anglican Theological Review

Claiming Elijah's Mantle: Young Adults and the Life of the Church

Article excerpt

Elijah's challenge to the young Elisha was real and life-changing, requiring an immediate decision. The transfer of spiritual authority from one generation to another ensures the continuity of the faith community. At the same time, the nature and quality of what is transferred affect the quality of the faith experience of those who follow. Religious experience must be powerful and life-changing; otherwise it is worthless. Young adults need to be exposed to a faith that challenges them and engages them in a way that produces growth and maturity. In a rapidly changing environment, the church must provide young adults with the effective tools needed to develop a wider perspective of faith. This will entail revisiting the past to see how it engages the present and the future.

I would like to begin with the image of the journey, and I would like to imite all persons to recount their journey-the short version, that is-to this place, this week. I say the short version, because there are several extensive ones, and there is always that one that would include the invention of the aircraft, for example! All of this would be relevant, but it is not that type of detail that I require today. It would be sufficient for us to know that this, and much more, has been a part of our journey. We may recall the preparations needed for this trip, the plans that needed to be put in place in our absence, the clearing of the schedule, and the separation that needed to be experienced. Then there is the physical journeying, which began long alter the emotional and spiritual one. The physical is always the shortest. The emotional and spiritual begins long before, and finishes long after. Today we sit comfortably, but much has occurred for us to be here sitting comfortably, and much is occurring within us as we sit here comfortably. Within, you are searching for a connection with me at this moment, and I am trusting that what I have written in a difference space, in a different time, can provide a connection to this time. In my writing. I have sought to be prophetic, to tell forth, at the time of writing, what would be real now in this moment. Only time will bear witness to the degree to which I have been able to achieve what I set out to accomplish.

I recall seeing a photograph in my youth of two men journeying. One man had wrapped his covering around the shoulders of the other. This was an artist's impression of Elisha's call. The picture has always stood out in my mind for reasons I do not know, but I can see it as clearly now as I did then, It was a powerful image. The artist showed Elisha with powerful thighs and arms, suggesting he was a verv strong man. There was either not a great presence to the figure of Elijah, or if there was, my childlike eyes only picked up the muscles of Elisha. I guess at the time, muscles were more important to me (being highly visible) than faith (invisible in the context of the picture).

My journey with this topic, then, began long before I knew who these persons were, and it continues to this day. Seldom do we think of the journey of persons as beginning long before their existence, and continuing long after they are gone. In the Elijah/Elisha encounter, Elisha was challenged in the moment to take a particular step in the journey. There was an initial hesitation, but this was followed immediately by a radical act of separation. Elisha's time had come, and he needed to move from where he was. His act of separation was grounded, more than likely, in his knowledge of the one who was calling him to a new place. In the picture I saw as a child, Elijah wrapped his mantle around the shoulders of Elisha and the act seemed warm and friendly. Elisha had confidence in Elijah, and hence was prepared to be with him and to join in his journey for the time.

As Afro-Anglicans we must ask ourselves first of all, what does this term "Afro-Anglican" mean? What does it mean to be claiming African and Anglican heritage? …

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