Rev David Harriss
Introduction of David Harriss
One of my favorite scriptures is 2 Kings 2:1-2, 6-14 (June 30th, 2019; Revised Common Lectionary, Year C). Within this pericope, Elijah is about to be taken up into heaven and Elisha follows him to a location in the desert where he (Elijah) is swooped up by an intense whirlwind. Following this ascension, Elisha sees the mantle on the ground which had befallen Elijah.
In Ancient Israel, the mantle was a wrap-around cloth that was used to cover a person. The purpose of mentioning the mantle is twofold: 1. Elijah would not need clothing for the next phase of his spiritual journey; 2. The prophetic mantle has now been passed from Elijah to Elisha.
In all of life, we pass the mantle to one another through our experiences and our spiritual formation. Just I have passed the mantle to the next minister in my former appointment, I now have the mantle passed to me from your former minister. My family and I look forward to the many different ways in which we can be involved in spiritual formation together as we pass the mantle from one another.
In many respects, my life has been a series of mantle passing from people whom I have dearly loved. My great grandfather, grandfather, and mother were all parish ministers. The mantle has now been passed down for 4 generations. In my first appointment, I learned a lot from a retired minister who was living in the rural community of Newton Grove, North Carolina. He passed on to me his wisdom and experience(s) in parish ministry. In many different formational studies, I have listened and learned from many of my counterparts around me. My own parishioners have passed unto me the mantles of experience, theology, and philosophy of the sacred texts. I have been on different national and international mission trips and I am never the same person coming home, compared to when I left. The mantles of love, compassion, and mercy were shared in mission and service to others.
Spiritual formation requires an openness to what the Spirit of God is calling us to do. Whenever we listen to that voice or feel that nudge where God is calling us to be, we become renewed and transformed by God’s Spirit. Transformation always changes us, never keeps us in the same place, and moves us toward Godliness. Throughout our stages of faith and our spiritual journeys, God is passing the mantle, renewing our lives, and transforming our spirits and our communities of faith.
My family and I look forward to sharing in the ministries of the church and being in spiritual formation with you through studies, worship, and service. May God continue to transform and renew our spirits as we move forward in this spiritual journey together.
--Rev. David J. Harriss