Second Sunday after Pentecost - Year C

1 Kings 17:8-16, (17-24) and Psalm 146 •
1 Kings 17:17-24 and Psalm 30 •
Galatians 1:11-24 •
Luke 7:11-17

Every day, not far from where you live, a parent sits at the bedside of a dying child.

Most of the time that is a lonely place, no matter who else is around. It is lonely and slow. Hospital time is slow time waiting at the bedside of someone you love. And that mother or father has lots of time to examine what it is that brought their family to this point where they are sitting at the bedside of their dying child. Lots of time.

Lots of time to wonder why this beautiful child is dying. No matter how much science and logic someone wants to apply to the situation, it does not make sense. However, we as humans have been trained to love our logic and so the parent constantly wonders why. And usually (not always) the thoughts turn to God.

Why would God let this happen?
Why would God do this to my child? to me?
Did I not go to church enough?
Have I not done enough good?
Is my child being punished for something I have done or not done?
Am I not a good enough parent?
Have I somehow failed and done this to my own child?
Is God trying to teach me something?
Do I not have enough faith?
Does God love me?

This is a horrendous place to be in. No one on earth is prepared to hear the news that their child might die, is going to die, or has died. And no matter now dire the circumstances, every parent holds on to every shred of hope (real or imagined) until the very end.

Now why is that? Why, even in the face of having been told by a variety of medical professionals that nothing can be done, would a parent still be able to generate hope that something might change? There are lots and lots of reasons. The primary reason is depth of love a parent has for a child. A parent never wants to believe it will be true that their child will die. And so, any treatment that is mentioned that might give even another day of life is considered and often tried. A parent never gives up hope.

And a parent who has any sort of Abrahamic faith (Islam, Judaism, Christianity) background also has some other stories floating around in their faith-based DNA reminding them that it would not be against precedent for God to intervene and heal their child. In this week's lectionary readings we see two stories of God using someone to give life back to someone who has died.

In 1 Kings we see Elijah sent to live in a new place where he meets a widow. After Elijah shows up the widow's food inexplicabably does not run out. And then, the woman's son gets deathly sick. Elijah takes the boy, prays over him, and the child is revived.

And then in Luke we see a brief scene where Jesus brings a guy (a widow's only son) back to life. The guy dies, Jesus sees the grief of the woman, he has compassion on her, and then brought the man back to life.

Even Paul's letter to the Galatians recounts a rather miraculous tale of Paul being chosen and plucked back from his righteous persecution of Christians. God's hand is somewhere in what seems an unlikely situation.

They are all miraculous stories by varying degrees.


A child dies (or almost dies) and is brought back to life.

A gift that is all but taken away is given back.

Here is where it gets difficult though. What about the kids that die....and don't come back? What about the families who find themselves launched in to an uncharted sea of grief? How do we reconcile these things? Does one have more faith than another? Does one somehow deserve it?

There is no easy answer for understanding the how and the why. In the story of Job or in the writing of Ecclesiastes, good things happen and bad things happen, and God goes on and on. Present. Aware. Emotional.
in the midst of hurt
and bewilderment
and wilderness
it is hard to see You
to hear You
to taste You.
Clothed in our own
minds and hearts,
rational thinking and raw feeling,
it is hard to know
that You are God.
Remind us.
Hold us.
Be fully present
even as we wonder
at Your ways.

© matt & laura norvell 2010 www.settingourstones.org
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May Grace & Peace be with you

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