Have you ever gotten to church a bit early, said a prayer or two for preparation for the Eucharist and then gone to the bulletin to scan the readings? I have. On a quick read I wonder how in the world the preacher is going to thread the Collect, OT, psalm, Epistle and Gospel together. It also crosses my mind that perhaps sticking to just one
of those readings would be the better course.
This reflection will be a line of this, the gist of that. The main point being -- don't look back. Pray, listen for God's guidance, go and don't look back.
Elijah's time on earth was coming to its end. Elisha, his replacement prophet in the making, refused to stay behind and went along with him. Elijah tells Elisha he can grant one thing before Elijah is taken: Elisha asks for a double amount of Elijah's spirit. Elijah is taken up in a whirlwind, never looking back. Elisha watches the departure and, sure enough, gets his wish.
Psalm 16:8 encapsulates that our sites must be set forward - "I have set the Lord always before me; because he is at my right hand I shall not fall."
Jesus, in the account by Luke, set his face to go to Jerusalem. The Samaritans wouldn't welcome him overnight. Despite James and John pleading him to let them send a fiery calling card, Jesus continues on. He's not interested in settling scores, just in getting the job done. Along the journey, several express interest in joining Jesus after they had the chance to "clear their calendars". Jesus replies - it's now or it's not. Each one simply turned back.
We could spend much time looking back, wondering about missed opportunities, counting the times we looked back to count the cost, never moving forward in faith.
Jesus challenges us to put the hand to the plow - to get moving toward the goal - and keep going. Will you?