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Elijah - 2 Kings 2

A service plan for Eastertide focused on Elijah's departure from this earth and how he bypassed death in an Eastertide series focusing on Bible stories that occurred before Christ's resurrection but which shed light on how we should live after his resurrection.

Worship Service
Also in this Series

Resurrection Previews

This is a series of five services examines previews of Christ's resurrection

Theme of the Service

Last week we began an Eastertide series which examines examples of how to live after Christ's resurrection. As part of these four Sunday services, we encourage you to consider using different settings of "I Know That My Redeemer Lives" each week. These anthems could be placed within the call to worship. You will find resources for these settings in the music notes following each service. In the first service, Enoch's story reminds us that being "taken away by God" (Genesis 5:24) is preceded by walking with God by faith. In this service we examine how Elijah left this earth and what that says to us.

At the end of his very dramatic ministry, Elijah is given the unique privilege of bypassing the experience of death as he leaves this earth. Our examination of Elijah's exit will open several considerations for us that will give us insight into the implications of Christ's victory over death for us.

* * * * *

We Gather Before God

Prelude: "Alleluia! Alleluia!" [see music notes]

The Call to Worship [see liturgy notes and music notes]

*Song of Praise: ""Alleluia! Alleluia!" PsH 387 [see music notes]

*Our Declaration of Trust and God's Greeting:

Congregation of Christ, who do you trust?
Our help is in the name of the Lord who made heaven and earth.
Grace, mercy and peace to you in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

*Song of Response: "He Is Lord" PsH 633, RN 29, SNC 160, SFL 178, TWC 97, UMH 177

The Children's Moment

We Are Renewed in God's Grace

The Call to Confession

Our Prayer of Confession

The Assurance of Pardon

Our Song of Dedication: "Christ, You Are the Fullness" PH 346, PsH 229, SFL 232

God's Guide for Grateful Living: Colossians 3:1-17 [see liturgy notes]

The Offertory Prayer
The Offering of Music: "Rejoice, the Lord Is King" [see music notes]
We offer our gifts for..

God Speaks from His Word

*Song: "Rejoice, the Lord Is King" PH 155, PsH 408, RL 596, SFL 180, TH 310, TWC 262, UMH 715 [see music notes]

The Prayer for Illumination

The Reading of Scripture: 2 Kings 2:1-18

The Word of the Lord.
Thanks be to God!

Sermon: Resurrection Previews: Elijah
Text: 2 Kings 2:11-12

The Prayer of Application

We Respond to God's Word

*Song of Faith: "By the Sea of Crystal" PsH 620, TH 549 and/or
"Swing Low, Sweet Chariot" PsH 617, SFL 197, UMH 703

*Our Affirmation of Faith:

How does "the resurrection of the body" comfort you?
Not only my soul
will be taken immediately after this life to Christ its head,
but even my very flesh, raised by the power of Christ,
will be reunited with my soul
and made like Christ's glorious body.
How does the article concerning "life everlasting" comfort you?
Even as I already now experience in my heart
the beginning of eternal joy so after this life I will have perfect blessedness
such as no eye has seen, no ear has heard, no human heart has ever imagined:
a blessedness in which to praise God eternally. (The Heidelberg Catechism, LD 22, Q&A 57-58)
© 1987, CRC Publications, Grand Rapids MI. Reprinted with permission.

We Leave with God's Presence

*The Benediction with Congregational Amen!

*Song: "Soon and Very Soon" RN 276, SFL 194, SNC 106, TWC 677, WOV 744, UMH 706

Postlude: "Soon and Very Soon" [see music notes]

* You are invited to stand.

Liturgy Notes

1. We encourage you to begin the service with a verbal reminder that we are continuing in the Easter season, a brief explanation of Eastertide, and a comment that will point to the importance of "Resurrection Previews."

2. We remind you that the visual appearance of the worship space is important in the Eastertide season. Be sure the colors and visuals of the worship space are not taken away prematurely.

3. See the liturgy note of last week about the method of utilizing Colossians 3 throughout this season as "God's Guide for Grateful Living." (Liturgy Note #4)

4. The Affirmation of Faith has taken the words of the Heidelberg Catechism so that all worshipers have an opportunity to speak about the hope we have. To reprint for personal use, a ministry setting, or classroom use include this credit line: © 1987, CRC Publications, Grand Rapids MI. Reprinted with permission.

Sermon Notes

In order to step into the story of Elijah accurately, we must remember that his ministry was a dramatic one. He was determined to destroy the heathen worship that had become such an integral part of Israel's life, no matter what the cost, and in the process earned the nickname "troubler of Israel" (see 1 Kings 18:17). He was indeed a fiery prophet. Near the end of his ministry there are several events that we must review and remember.

  • Elijah and Elisha (don't confuse the names!) take a concluding journey together. They are apparently both aware that the end of Elijah's life is near, and Elisha is being prepared to take over Elijah's ministry. This journey is recorded in 2 Kings 2:1-10.
  • The second element is Elijah's unique exit from this earth (see 2 Kings 2:11). Suddenly, Elijah is swept away in a manner that involved the unique phenomena of a fiery chariot and horses of fire. Verse 12 tells us this must have been a distressing experience for Elisha who cries out in his grieving.
  • The story indicates that this event was obviously one that defied understanding and explanation. Verses 13-18 points to interaction between Elisha and the "company of the prophets" (see v.15), who also find it difficult to accept, understand, or explain.

Parts of this event give us a good basis for better understanding life lived under the Lordship of a risen Christ.

  • Elijah's life obviously had a God-designed plan behind it. His ministry, God's instructions along the way, and the conclusion of it are all part of God's plan. Lives that are swept to heaven are part of his plan, and lives that are part of his plan are swept to heaven!
  • The manner of using a fiery chariot is not normative so its presence here makes us realize that God will use some kind of event or vehicle to take us home. It may be sudden or slow. It may utilize natural forces or unusual means. Regardless, the outcome is that the child of God is brought home. (All of us at times wonder what "our vehicle" will be like!)
  • The left-behind cloak represents work undone which must be picked up and carried on by others. The cloak (v.13) is not merely a piece of clothing but a symbol of an unfinished task that is to be completed by Elisha, his follower.
  • Elijah was swept away body and soul. Both are important to God. Just as Jesus ascended to heaven body and soul, so we will be raised and glorified body and soul.

Death had no power over Elijah. As such, it was a prefiguring of the work that would be accomplished by the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Remember what Christ said in John 6:47 and 11:26.

Music Notes 

Suggestions for prelude, based on the opening hymn can be found in:

EBENEZER/TON-Y-BOTEL ["Alleluia! Alleluia"]

  • Organ:
    • Burkhardt, Michael. Seven Hymn Improvisations and Free Accompaniments, set 1. Morningstar MSM-10-847 [1992] (E-M)
    • Hildebrand, Kevin. Easy Hymn Preludes for Organ, vol 3. Concordia 97-7052 [2004] (E-M)
    • Krapf, Gerhard. Sing and Rejoice, vol. 3. SMP KK278 [1983] (adaptable to piano, E)
    • Miller, Aaron David. Augsburg Organ Library - Epiphany. Augsburg 11-11073 [2001] (M)
    • Purvis, Richard. Seven Chorale Preludes. Fischer 0 3450 [1949] (POP, M)
    • Willan, Healy. Ten Hymn Preludes, set 2. Peters 6012 [1957] (M)
  • Piano:
    • Medema, Ken. Sanctuary. Genevox 4181-16 [1989] (M)
    • Shackley, Larry. Celtic Hymn Settings for Piano. Hope 8117 [2001] (E-M)
    • Wilhelmi, Teresa. Hymns.Light Jazz Style. Word 301 0136 315 [1997] (M)
  • Handbells:
    • McChesney, Kevin. Once to Every Man and Nation. Alfred 18556 [1999] (3-5 octaves, level 3)


The following are anthem suggestions on the text "I Know That My Redeemer Lives," which could be included as part of the call to worship each week of this Eastertide series. You may consider also reading the text from Job 19:23-27 in place of a choral setting or having solo rendition of the text from Handel's "Messiah." You could also repeat the same setting of the text from week to week.

  • Bach, Johann Michael. I Know That My Redeemer Lives. Schirmer 8418 [1940] (SATTB, a cappella; M)
  • Bunjes, Paul. I Know That My Redeemer Lives. Concordia 98-1462 [1958] (SATB, congregation with organ; concertato; E-M)
  • Courtney, Craig. I Know That My Redeemer Lives. Beckenhorst BP1563 [1999] (SATB and keyboard; E-M)

Two alternative harmonizations on the opening hymn can be found in the following resource. They are easily adaptable for organ.

EBENEZER/TON-Y-BOTEL ["Alleluia! Alleluia"]

  • Alternative Harmonization for Piano:
  • Cherwien, David. Let It Rip! At the Piano. Augsburg 11-11045 [2000]

Suggestions for offertory music and alternative harmonizations on the hymn following the offertory can be found in:

DARWALL'S 148TH ["Rejoice, the Lord Is King"]

  • Organ: 
    • Callahan, Charles. Partita on Darwall's 148th. Morningstar MSM-10-848 [1992] (E-M)
    • Harbach, Barbara. (2002) Augsburg Organ Library - Autumn. Augsburg ISBN 0-8006-7579-7 [2003] (M)
    • Jordan, Alice. A Joyful Noise. Broadman 4570-62 [1984] (E-M)
    • Wold, Wayne L. Prelude, Meditation and Finale on Darwall's 148th. Augsburg 11-10809 [1997]  (M)
  • Handbells:
    • Kinyon, Barbara B. Rejoice, the Lord Is King. Agape 1931 [1998] (3 octaves, level 3)
    • Page, Anna Laura. Rejoice, the Lord Is King. Alfred 16460 [1996] (3-5 octaves, level 2)
  • Alternative Harmonization for Organ:
    • Thiman, Eric. Varied Accompaniments to Thirty-Four Well-Known Hymn Tunes. Oxford ISBN 0 19 323210 3 [1937]
  • Alternative Harmonization for Piano:
    • Carlson, J. Bert. Let It Rip! At the Piano, vol. 2. Augsburg ISBN 0-8006-7580-0 [2003]

Alternative harmonizations and postlude suggestions based on the closing hymn can be found in:

SOON AND VERY SOON ["Soon and Very Soon"]

  • Alternative Harmonization for Organ:
    • Burkhardt, Michael. As Though the Whole Creation Cried. Morningstar MSM-10-555 [2001]
  • Alternative Harmonization for Piano:
    • Helgen, John. Let It Rip! At the Piano, vol. 2. Augsburg ISBN 0-8006-7580-0 [2003]
  • Piano:
    • Carter, John. Contemporary Hymns & Songs for Piano/4 Hands. Hope 8087 [2000] (E-M)
    • Schrader, Jack. Amazing Grace. Hope 8138 [2001] (E-M)
    • Wilson, John F. A Sacrifice of Praise. Hope 347 [1994] (E-M)


Glossary of Hymnal Abbreviations:
PH The Presbyterian Hymnal (Presbyterian Church USA; Westminster/John Knox Press)
PsH The Psalter Hymnal (Christian Reformed Church; Faith Alive Christian Resources)
RL Rejoice in the Lord (Reformed Church in America; W.B. Eerdmans Publishing Company)
RN Renew! (Hope Publishing Company)
SFL Songs for LiFE (children's songbook; Faith Alive Christian Resources)
SNC Sing! A New Creation (Calvin Institute of Christian Worship, Christian Reformed Church,
Reformed Church in America; Faith Alive Christian Resources)
TH Trinity Hymnal (Orthodox Presbyterian Church, Presbyterian Church in America; Great
Commission Publications)
TWC The Worshiping Church (Hope Publishing Company)
UMH The United Methodist Hymnal (United Methodist Publishing House)
WOV With One Voice (Augsburg Fortress)