The Widow of Nain (2011)

Sermon notes from 9 October 20011 for  Luke 7:11-16

Soon afterwards Jesus went to a town called Nain, and his disciples and a large crowd went with him. 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. When the Lord saw her, he had compassion for her and said to her, “Do not weep.” Then he came forward and touched the bier, and the bearers stood still. And he said, “Young man, I say to you, rise!” The dead man sat up and began to speak, and Jesus gave him to his mother. 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!”

1)      While miracles are ever popular and people want miracles in their lives, the real purpose of the miracles in the Gospels are revealed in the last sentence:  the revelation of who Jesus is, and an encounter with the presence of God.  A miracle is not nearly important as is God’s presence.  God’s presence may also be found in His promises which may not find fulfillment in the now.  The world wants miracles now, but biblical miracles actually point to the reality of that not-yet Kingdom which is to come.

2)     We can lament and say those miracles happened 2000 years ago, we don’t have the chance to have such an encounter with Christ.

But we do – the Divine Liturgy.

3)     The Liturgy is supposed to be the very place where we dwell in the presence of God. It is the place where we have opportunity to encounter God and receive the life of God into our selves.  In the Liturgy we hear the voice of Christ in the Gospel, and we can invoke Christ’s Name, and we both touch Christ and are touched by Him in the holy Eucharist.

4)     Here we come to be healed of our sins, to be raised from lives of spiritual death, to be confronted in our faults so that we will repent and turn to God.  Here we also are challenged to let go of our passions – lust, anger, greed, hatred, jealousy, gluttony, pride, judgmentalism, selfishness, self centeredness, lest we go away from the Liturgy unhealed of the sins that destructively burn in our hearts.  The fact is the very reason we come to the Liturgy is to have Christ drive out of our lives and hearts and minds those evil thoughts we prevent us from being disciples of Christ.

5)     In the Gospel Lesson, Christ walked up to the funeral procession and touches the open coffin carrying the dead man.  And the bearers of the coffin stand still.  Here in the Liturgy, we too who are dead in sin have opportunity for Christ to touch us and stop us in our tracks.  Christ will then call us out of our sin, out of our passions, out of those things which are burning our hearts and destroying our love for one another.  And he calls us then to rise to life.   So do not leave the Liturgy unhealed, do no remain dead in your sins and passions, but let Christ heal you, let him take away that heavy burden of sin and passion which is killing you and destroying your heart.    Let Christ confront you in the way you normally think and act and bring you to repentance so like the young man in the Gospel lesson, you can arise to the new life in Christ, one which is empowered by God’s love.