Summary: A sermon for the 2nd Sunday after Pentecost The story of the Widow at Nain

2nd Sunday after Pentecost

Proper 5C

Lectionary 10 C

Luke 7:11-17

"Jesus’ Loving Heart"

11* Soon afterward he went to a city called Nain, and his disciples and a great crowd went with him.

12* As he drew near to the gate of the city, behold, a man who had died was being carried out, the only son of his mother, and she was a widow; and a large crowd from the city was with her.

13 And when the Lord saw her, he had compassion on her and said to her, “Do not weep.”

14* And he came and touched the bier, and the bearers stood still. And he said, “Young man, I say to you, arise.”

15* And the dead man sat up, and began to speak. And he gave him to his mother.

16* Fear seized them all; and they glorified God, saying, “A great prophet has arisen among us!” and “God has visited his people!”

17 And this report concerning him spread through the whole of Judea and all the surrounding country.RSV

Grace and peace to your from our Lord and Saviour, Jesus who is the Christ. Amen

Do you remember your high school science class? I do and I remember once certain class when we learned about magnets. Do you remember how we could not make magnets go together with the same ends, but the opposite ends would attract? I also remember using different kinds of metals to see which ones would be attracted to the magnet. I can also remember the teacher asking us to sprinkle steel filling on a piece of paper. They looked like grains of sand scattered over that paper. Then the teacher asked us to take the paper and place it on the top of the magnet. Then something exciting happened. The steel filings all arranged themselves in a beautiful symmetrical pattern. Every particle n the paper seemed to have found its proper place. Out of confusion the magnet brought order.

Our gospel lesson this morning deals with this very subject. Not the steel filings and magnets, but Jesus Christ and the order he can bring to our lives. How scattered and jumbled life seems at times! Just like those steel filings on a piece of paper our lives can be.

How can we reconcile joy and sorrow, love and hate, life and death? How can there be any plan to things? We look at life and wonder how we might be able to make sense out of it? We look at all the brokenness around us and we wonder how do we understand it? How do we fit in? How do we live?

Often we look at life and see all the brokenness, all the tragedy that is around us and we tend to make God the scapegoat for all the world’s misfortune. Earthquakes, hurricanes, tornadoes, volcanoes often are seen as signs of God’s judgment. Illness, accidents and death are viewed as being somehow decided by God as he plays games with his human family.

While it is true that God works in all circumstance, it is not true that God wills and decides all of the individual experiences that make up our lives. God does not snuff out the life of an infant or small child. He does not create a tragedy that takes the life of a young person who is struggling towards adulthood. He does not decide that a parent will become a victim of caner and die a slow death leaving a family in anguish and chaos. He does not decide to inflict a person with a chronic and disabling condition just to test that person’s faith. We have not right to blame God for the adversities that come our way. He does not cause death or suffering, but he works in these things that are part of the human condition of sin to bring goodness. He does not place the cross on our shoulders.

Our gospel lesson this morning is about a lady, a widow who lost her only son. We need to understand why this is such a tragedy.

Donald Miller writes about this story this way:

“In this story death is seen at it worst. It had struck a youth, claiming its prey long before the lad had lived out a normal span of years. Death could conceivably be a mercy in old age. But here death had struck a particularly vicious blow taking the only son of a widow. Widows in that day were pitiable in any case for they had no legal right and could not receive any inheritance. They were dependent on their sons or the relatives of there husbands whose support cold not be demanded. The death of her son had left the widow defenseless in a cruel world. With no heir, the family name would be cut off in Israel. Here is the tragedy of humanity at its worse. The widow’s tears were eloquent testimony of the lordship of death. Death had indeed come in a cruel way to this lady.”

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