Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Today’s text

Luke 7:11-13

It happened that soon afterwards he went to a town called Nain, accompanied by his disciples and a great number of people. Now when he was near the gate of the town there was a dead man being carried out, the only son of his mother, and she was a widow. And a considerable number of the townspeople were with her. When the Lord saw her he felt sorry for her and said to her, 'Don't cry.'


She had every reason to cry. A widow without a son to care for her was bereft. She had no means of economic support and no one to care for her in her old age.

Her son’s death condemned her to a life of loneliness, scraping by on the handouts of others in a community that would treat her as an object of God’s disfavor--and their own. You can almost hear the tongues wag.

“She is about as low as you can get.”

“I heard she was difficult to get on with.”

“They say she didn’t treat her family well.”

“And now they’re gone.”

Nothing like this ever happens today, of course. We are much more compassionate than ancient societies that treated widows as disfavored by God. Nor do we cut ourselves off from those who suffer great loss and grief, or those who suffer from mental illness, or from the loss of job or foreclosure, or from other tragedies. Right?

A deep repellent force within us resists getting too close to suffering and misfortune. We may say, “I don’t know what to say to her,” but most of the time this is cover for deeper psychological reactions we don’t understand.

Most of those reactions spring from fear of vulnerability. Even the idea that we need to know what to say comes from that fear. We want to be in control and being with those who suffer reminds us that we are not.

Being with those who grieve, who are caught up in irresolvable dilemmas and pain reminds us that it could be us, and we resist that awareness. We don’t want to see it, for to see it shakes us into the undeniable reality that we are mortal.

In our society talking about death, about one’s mortality is an obscenity, something that is not done in polite company--or perhaps in any company.

But there are those among us who run into burning houses, so to speak. They do not shy from the grief of the mourner, the struggle of the cancer patient, the fear of those for whom the future impends threat.

And there are parts of our fearful souls that want to be involved, that want to care, that may even want to say with Jesus, “Don’t cry. I am here.”

Those parts of our souls are inhabited by the Spirit of Jesus. His Spirit is not hard to recognize. It is the desire to care, the yearning to live beyond the safety of our walls, the craving to become the compassion we feel in depths of our soul that we too seldom visit.

That Spirit is known in the hope that the touch of Jesus will also raise us when our life is slipping away. And it continues to say, “Don’t cry. Grace is here … and life. No matter what.

Pr David L. Miller

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thank you for this post, Pastor. This both convicts and liberates me at the same time. It's time for me to write a letter to the one who comes to mind.