Arise!

FAITH-RISE-350-1The readings today focus on victory over death. We are familiar with them both. In 1 Kings, Elijah returns the widow’s son to life. Similarly in Luke, Jesus stops a funeral procession, and returns to life a son to his widowed mother.

In a real sense two lives are saved, for as widows, both women were dependent upon their sons, the sons who would take care of them as soon as they were of an age.

But are these lessons about victory over death in a physical sense?

Surely we know that both of these sons would eventually die, their lives were being lengthened, they were not going to be immortal. So what are we to learn?

We learn of course that God has power that transcends all our physical laws. To us and our scientific understanding, all things that live eventually die. We know of no way to change that. It appears to be the way of life. Yet we know that our Creator must and does control even life itself. And if God does this, then, there must be something beyond our mere lives. If there was nothing else there would be no point in prolonging this life we each live, for in the end is mere dust.

Indeed when we look at the companion reading in Ephesians, it becomes clear. Paul faces and endures a different kind of death–the death of his old way of life. Born as a Pharisee, Paul rose through the ranks to be an exemplary Pharisee, following the traditions of his family and Judaism. He, no doubt, proudly persecuted these upstart Jews lead by Jesus.

Yet, all fell away from him in a moment of revelation. We know the story well, and Paul tells us himself that he was not “taught” this new way of being. He, seemingly instantly, sees. He sees that his entire life has been devoted to the wrong way of being, and he sees the right path. From that moment forward, he becomes an apostle to the Gospel. So sure is he of his new truth, that he feels no necessity to check in with those who had lived, eaten, slept, and walked for three years with Jesus. He needed no check. He literally had been reborn, raised from his own death.

Some in our times refer to the “coming to Christ” as being “reborn”. Indeed baptism is a death to sin and rebirth. But of course we continue to sin, for we are human. And wise followers of Jesus know that this death and rebirth are continuous events in our lives, hopefully occurring again and again as we mature in our discipleship.

The stories of the widows and the return of their sons to life bring us joy, not in the miracles described, but in the hope that we retain from pondering them. God has ultimate power over the very act of death, how much more over our foibles and shortcomings? God can and does call us patiently and with love to renew and reclaim our godliness in Christ.

God is always calling us to arise.

Do we hear?

Do we answer?

Amen.

I remember my childhood when the sunrise,
like my play-fellow, would burst in to my bedside
with its daily surprise of morning;
when the faith in the marvelous bloomed
like fresh flowers in my heart every day,
looking into the face of the world in simple gladness;
when insects, birds and beasts, the common weeds,
grass and the clouds had their fullest value of wonder;
when the patter of rain at night brought dreams
from the fairyland, and mother’s voice in the evening
gave meaning to the stars.

And then I think of death,
and the rise of the curtain
and the new morning
and my life awakened in its fresh surprise of love.**

From Rabindranath Tagore, Crossing

 

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4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Tim
    Jun 09, 2013 @ 13:31:20

    “Do we answer?”

    Sherry, that is the question, I think, that forms the crux of these stories. This morning our pastor told us the Hebrew word for “widow” is derived from the term for “mute.” The widow in Kings speaks, but she has no voice in her culture or community. Thus her initial complaints to the prophet traditionally carry little weight and that’s why they’re characterized in a rather hysterical manner. (It’s a sly move by the writer to lure us into foregone conclusions about her and her situation…)

    But the prophet–God’s surrogate and voice to God’s people–listens to her and responds to her anxieties, even though her neighbors and the authorities have left her to die. (She’s also an outsider–a daughter of Sidon, a worshiper of Baal–and thus she begins the story “on the wrong side of history.”) But when she experiences true resurrection power with the restoration of her son’s life, she also finds her voice to confess her faith in God.

    Finding our voice is so essential to claiming (or reclaiming) our faith. We see this in today’s widows and in Paul. And particularly for those of us who’ve been told we’re on the wrong side of history or theology or custom, it’s vital that we speak. We must answer the call the to arise and then we must live out loud, undaunted by the constraints of culture and tradition. We are alive! Thanks be to God!

    Such a wonderful reflection today. You’ve helped us see how everything falls into place, just as it should.

    Blessings abundant,
    Tim

    Reply

    • Sherry
      Jun 10, 2013 @ 07:46:11

      I confess Tim, that I write these reflections sometimes just in anticipation of what you will teach me about them! No pressure dear man of course! haha. But you certainly make such an important point about widows and their lack of voice. They were certainly discriminated against in their society as our priest indicated yesterday. God lifts up the lowly as it were, and we are reminded of us so often. Jesus’ genius was in bringing that forth in a more stark and present way to all his followers. He served the least represented in his society, showing of course that the story of the widow and Elijah was no accident of person or place. Blessings my dear friend. Sherry !END

      Reply

      • Tim
        Jun 10, 2013 @ 09:56:14

        Sherry, you’re so kind! I so enjoy coming here and must confess to over-eagerness, trusting you know that your wonderful words spark all sorts of thoughts and ideas. For so long, I enjoyed the dialogue between our two blogs. Now that I’m “retired,” I find myself keeping up my side of the conversation in the comments. If ever I go too far and overstep my bounds, don’t hesitate to let me know. My respect for you and your knowledge is boundless, and I would never want to crowd or offend you!

      • Sherry
        Jun 11, 2013 @ 10:43:18

        That would be impossible Tim, you always add to my knowledge which I so appreciate. I loved the sermons you sent me yesterday. I ran into a couple of great books from a article I read today. Let me find them on my wish list at Amazon and send you them. The first expecially seemed useful. Blessings! Sherry

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