In the Old Testament, there is a story of Elijah and Elisha. Elisha has been Elijah’s student for some time now. Elisha stands with his father and mentor and knows that Elijah is leaving. So he asks for Elijah’s spirit to remain with him. In response, Elijah says something three times as though to emphasize. That “As the LORD lives, and as you yourself live, I will not leave you.”
After Elijah is carried away, Elisha picks up the mantle of Elijah that had fallen from him, and went back and stood on the bank of the Jordan River. He took the mantle of Elijah that had fallen from him, and struck the water, saying, "Where is the LORD, the God of Elijah?" When he had struck the water, the water was parted to the one side and to the other, and Elisha went over. The Lord will always live, Elijah does not die, is carried away so the wisdom of old remains despite all that happens among them. Elijah’s words are to remind Israel to remember who they are, and to proclaim God’s steadfast love with who they are. This is a good reminder for us in the church. We have now come to a season in which that our pastor, Ed White is leaving us and this Sunday will be his last. We give thanks for all he has done, rejoice in what God has done in him and us, and now we wait for another to come and take up his mantle. Are we sad? Sure we are, and that is more than okay, but God in Christ Jesus will remain with us. As long as our God lives, Ed’s service and love shall remain with us also. We will celebrate his ministry among us and say our goodbyes with a reception following the service.
However very soon, Rev. Dr. Mary Beth Bernheisel will come to be our senior pastor. Her first Sunday with us will be on July 7th. Might we welcome her and her family, and love them fully just as we have Ed and his family. Might we look ahead with hope of what is yet to come to us and what God has done, is doing, and will continue to do in First United Methodist Church here in Dyersburg. We celebrate the new thing that God is doing, and might we pray for both Ed and Mary Beth. For also long as the Lord lives, and we live, we shall never be alone. For in the final words of John Wesley, “Best of all, God is with us!”
Christ’s Peace, Will, Ed, and the FUMC Family