1 Kings 19:19-20a
"So he set out from there, and found Elisha son of Shaphat, who was plowing. There were twelve yoke of oxen ahead of him, and he was with the twelfth. Elijah passed by him and threw his mantle over him. He left the oxen, ran after Elijah, and said, 'Let me kiss my father and my mother, and then I will follow you.'"
This passage is the origin of the expression "taking up the mantle." Elijah is passing on the call to prophesy to Elisha. And Elisha accepts the call.
I mentioned at the ordination service yesterday that ordination is one of those events after which people will ask you "so...do you feel any different?" It's a good and fair question. Of course we are all called to minister to one another and to the world, but ordained ministers are called for a particular type of ministry that is different and that is set aside as special.
How does it feel? It feels right. It feels like the acceptance and acknowledgment of gifts from God. In the 1 Kings passage, Elisha doesn't ask many questions and doesn't really object (other than a nice request to say goodbye to loved-ones). When ordination is in the hands of God and when "taking up the mantle" of ministry is blessed, it just feels right. Perhaps it's a bit like meeting a new friend who feels like an old friend. You didn't know what to expect, but when she arrives, there is no awkwardness or adjustment. There is just the exciting "jumping in" that's involved in every good and loving relationship.
There is also the comforting assurance that the journey is not a lonely one. Elijah and Elisha were out there in that field on their own. But this mantle, taken up through the laying on of hands, is passed through a community, and undertaken in the presence of friends, family, and a church community who shares the burden and the blessing. Because of that, because of you, it feels right, and joyful, and good.