Summary: A thanksgiving sermon. What happens when the Lord of Life encounters a procession of death on the outskirts of the village of Nain? A worship service is waiting to happen.
Intro: The Spring of the Year.
I. Two Crowds
a. A Jubiliant Crowd
1. A crowd which had traveled all day with Jesus
2. A crowd which had witnessed a miraculous healing
3. A crowd that was asking the question, who is this Jesus?
4. Like the feeling you get when you pass an overturned mini-van and can’t help thinking that someone’s child might have been in there.
b. A Mournful Crowd
1. A crowd which had assembled in the past hour.
2. A crowd thinking about the hardship of life.
3. A crowd on the way to a funeral.
II. The Boy
1. A boy like any boy
2. A boy at play – pretending to be the judges
3. A boy at school – he loved reading the miracles of the prophets
4. A boy at work – maybe apprentice to the potter?
5. A boy filled with dreams
III. The Widow
1. A lifetime of loss etched on her face
2. It had seemed as though God had given her a consolation in this boy – for he would be her only son, his father had been killed before he was born.
3. Hours of consolation as spoke to her unborn baby. A lifetime of hopes and dreams.
4. The labour had been long, and seemed longer because she was alone. Only the local midwife bustling around her little single room shack. But finally after what seemed an age the cry rang out.
5. When her son was given to her she vowed that this would be enough, she would be satisfied with the meager life she had, since she had this one ray of meaning left in it.
6. Then the sickness came. She had guarded him from danger, he was not to roam outside the village walls, he was not to walk to close to the roof tops, she always cut up his food when he was tiny, and suggested the potter was a better trade than taking a job offer in Tyre as a ships boy. But how do you fight sickness.
7. ‘It’s like nothing I’ve ever seen before… that’s all the doctor could say.’ There were other doctors, but not in Nain, and not afforded by a poor widow woman, who needed to feed a growing boy.
8. But then the boy had stopped eating. He would try to take a little bread and water, and somehow he hung on for a few months that way, slowly wasting away to an emaciated form.
9. Finally last night it had happened. A trembling moment when the last bits of life seemed to shake from him, he was trying to say something to his mother, she had come to his side and was gazing down at him and a moment later he was gone and the eyes became dull.
10. With what sad care the last acts were rendered to that dead boy. It would have been the custom to lay him out quickly on the ground. There was no funeral home or professional, this was something every family learned to do at some point. The body had to be washed, and with what care did the poor widow woman find the best of her boys garments, the one he had most worn in life and put it on him, awkwardly, clumsily, he wasn’t a baby anymore.
11. Then with trembling hands she would have cut his hair one last time and held his hands as she trimmed his finger nails. All of this was part of the rights given to all the dead, but for this poor widow it must have been so much more.
12. Finally, early the next morning after a numbing night alone with haunting moments when sleep tempted her to hope she would wake from the nightmare, she had awoken to see her boy cold and ashen in the spring sunlight.
13. A few steps over to a neighbouring shack. The woman at the door didn’t have to ask, the entire community had known of the sickness, and the white face with red rimmed eyes told the rest of the story.
14. The professional mourner was sent for, and when she arrived with two young flutists, boys that her boy had once played with, they began the funeral tune. The mourner began her mournful lament. A few of the neighbouring men had lifted the boy on a bier and now, bare foot, bore it between them.
15. As the funeral procession wove its way out to the village gate the villagers fell into step. Soon the entire village had gathered. Leading the procession in short broken steps was the remnant of a woman.
16. She had nothing now. No hope for the future. On a purely social-economical level she was impoverished and without security or social standing, but I doubt that occurred to her, and if it did, I doubt she cared… would you?