Sermon for the 3rd Sunday after Epiphany (1/25/2015)
Text: 1 Kings 19:19-21
Theme: An All-In Kind of Faith
Alea iacta est. How many of are familiar with that Latin phrase?
On January 10, 49 BC, then General Julius Caesar reportedly uttered this phrase as he crossed the Rubicon River. Alea iacta est, “the die is cast.” You see, it was against Roman law for a general to cross over the Rubicon River into Italy with an army – it was an act of war, it was treason. General Julius Caesar was making a bid to be the emperor of Rome. As his army crossed the Rubicon he had reached a point of no return: either he would win and become emperor, or he would loose and be executed. The die was cast – one of those two outcomes was destined. There was no turning back. Things could never again be as they once were for Julius Caesar and Rome.
And so, to this day in Italy (and all around the world) people use the phrase “the die is cast” to signify that there is no coming back from what just happened. Things can never again be the way they were before.
Today in 1 Kings 19 we see one of these life defining, no-turning-back moments.
Elijah, the renowned prophet of God who stood up to King Ahab and Queen Jezebel, who had defeated the 450 prophets of Baal on Mount Carmel, came up to Elisha, the seemingly wealthy farmer, and threw his cloak over his shoulders. This was no ordinary cloak. What Elijah was doing here was clear to Elisha. This was the garment that signified that Elijah was a prophet of God (which, interestingly enough, is the historical and biblical background for this stole I wear over my shoulders – the cloak or yoke of responsibility as an ordained, public servant of God). Elisha was being called by God through Elijah to be a public minister – a prophet.
And how did Elisha respond? He crossed the Rubicon. He cast the die. He made this a point of no return. As those ox steaks sizzled over a fire fueled by what used to be his plowing equipment it was clear that things would never be the same for Elisha – they couldn’t be. Life as he knew it, his career, his way of putting food on the table was going up in smoke in front of him. There was no turning back. He was no longer Elisha the farmer, he was Elisha the prophet. Continue reading