Tuesday, May 31, 2016

e-vo for week of June 1

Dearest e-votees,

Classic healing story of Jesus is our appointed gospel for this week.

A widow's only son is dead. As the town gathers to grieve (and maybe gawk or maybe fall into despair) Jesus comes in to speak life into death and to restore relationships. Where might death and broken relationships be haunting us? How open are we to Jesus speaking life into our places of despair as well?



11 Soon afterwards [Jesus] went to a town called Nain, and his disciples and a large crowd went with him. 12 As he approached the gate of the town, a man who had died was being carried out. He was his mother's only son, and she was a widow; and with her was a large crowd from the town. 13 When the Lord saw her, he had compassion for her and said to her, "Do not weep." 14 Then he came forward and touched the bier, and the bearers stood still. And he said, "Young man, I say to you, rise!" 15 The dead man sat up and began to speak, and Jesus gave him to his mother. 16 Fear seized all of them; and they glorified God, saying, "A great prophet has risen among us!" and "God has looked favorably on his people!" 17 This word about him spread throughout Judea and all the surrounding country.

Luke 7:11-17, NRSV

In a patriarchal society it is a bad thing to lose your husband. He was a means of support and protection and status. Having your husband die on you could expose you precariously to poverty and danger. However, having a son to help look after you might mitigate some of the exposure of being a widow. In a patriarchal society it is a very, very bad thing as a widow to lose your only son. Your protection is gone. Your support is gone. Soon your family name might be gone as well. You may well become dependent on welfare to survive. The options to you for self-support are limited and might involve some form of servitude/slavery and perhaps even prostitution. The grief and despair of two deaths in the family are compounded by the grief and despair of an anticipated future. This is indeed a time to lean deeply into mourning.

But then enters this itinerant rabbi that has been connecting with the lowly and the outcast and those on the fringes. He sees that you and the town are mourning your son. He approaches the funeral procession. He reaches out and touches the platform that is bearing your son. He doesn't seem concerned about the social transgressions here. He doesn't seemed concerned about ritual purity. He doesn't even talk to you. He addresses your dead son and says "Rise!" Your son listens and responds. You and your son are restored. Death and broken relationships are pushed to the fringes. Life and love are gathered around Jesus.

So where do we see death, despair and hopelessness? What things bring us low? What places do others gather (maybe to comfort, maybe to gawk and maybe to fall into despair) around us? Where do we ritualize the death, broken places and lost dreams? What if Jesus dared to walk right in (invited or not). What if Jesus spoke life where we were intent on seeing death? What if Jesus brought life, hope and healing? What might our response be to such an infusion? How might we live and breathe and speak differently if we truly believed that death doesn't have the final word? That broken dreams don't have final sway? That there is more to our future than broken-down decomposition and chaos winning the day.

And how might we live and speak and carry ourselves in order to bring that good news to the wealth of widows of Nain that we encounter daily? Do we grieve with them? Of course. Do we offer a hope that seems beyond reason as well?

God, our times, futures and lives eternal are in your hands. Help us rest and love and live in you. Amen.

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