The Passing of the Mantle

The Passing of the Mantle

In this Biblical narrative, prophet Elijah felt that he was nearing “retirement”, that God would end his ministry soon.

(2 Kings 2:13-14)

this Biblical narrative,  prophet Elijah
felt that he was nearing “retirement”, 
that God would end his ministry soon. 
Therefore he gave final instructions to his young disciple, Elisha,
preparing him to take on new duties. The actual “transfer of power” between the
two took place near the Jordan River where suddenly a “chariot of fire”
separated them and “Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven”. Only his mantle
had fallen from him, to Elisha, who continued to use it well in his future
activity. Since Elijah and Elisha, this moving event, the “passing of the
mantle”, has been repeated innumerable times and in great variations. It
reinforces the basic truth of life that generations stand in line with each
other, the elderly ready to relinquish, and the young to assume

I found myself tangibly being part of such a story. At the September opening of
the Karoli Gaspar Reformed University, in Budapest, an “official” ceremony was
held thanking God for my seventeen years of teaching here as a missionary from
the United Church of Christ.  An
attractive Certificate of Appreciation was granted me with a plaque of the
school, and I was encouraged to launch a new phase of life – preparation for

not alone in dealing with this situation. 
A number of good friends and colleagues near my age are facing the same
issue. In our place, new and young faculty are being hired – most of them
previous students of ours! The Passing of the Mantle repeats itself not only symbolically
but in a literal sense as well as the young generation take over our tasks.
Karoli Gaspar University will never be the same.

2 Kings 2:13-14 we can find at least three issues that are particularly
relevant to our situation.  When Elijah
was taken away, his mantle was left behind for Elisha and that mantle continued
to remain a useful working tool.  As
educators we may ask, what kind of mantle do we leave behind?  Are we passing on such faith and such
knowledge that can strengthen the ministry of those who follow us?  Our know-how and experience must be functional
for those who take our place.

on retirement speak of the importance of timing with such an event. When should
a professor of theology, especially a missionary person, retire?  The timing of Elijah’s retirement was
determined not by the prophet or Elisha, but by God.  The Lord knew when Elijah had had enough,
when his diminishing faculties would have made the continuation of his ministry
more difficult and less effective. (Up to this time in my spiritual
journey I was encouraged to seek and enter through those doors which were
opened by the Creator; now however, I need to recognize that certain important
doors are permanently closing. However, in looking around at the world’s
economic, social and environmental stressors, I do realize that for many of us
it is a privilege to be able to retire!)

is quite unlikely that on the first day of retirement we will be taken up by
God on a “chariot of fire”. Each of us still will have the skill, the
knowledge, and especially the time to do a variety of needed work.  Between the “chariot” and the rocking chair
there will be plenty of opportunities to remain active and involved.

“Passing of the Mantle” is a universal story. 
It is a reminder that while you have time don’t forget to pass on your
mantle, which, like everything else you have, is not really yours but belongs
to God.                                                     

Laslo Medyesy

and Coralyn Medyesy
are missionaries with the Reformed Church in Hungary, based in
Budapest, Hungary.  Laslo serves as professor of theology in the
Department of Theology of the Gaspar Karoli Reformed University in Budapest.
Coralyn T.
Medyesy serves as a teacher of Social Work and Diakonia at the Nagy Koros