Around half-term, the preparations for the carpet fitters tomorrow, and a quick mercy dash to bring home a friend from the local hospital, I have finally tried today to grappel with two of the lectionary readings for this week 1Kings 17:8-24 and Luke 7:11-17
Two widows, both with dead sons, make their appearance this week – and both sons are brought to life. There are stark contrasts here between widows with nothing (no future support, no food/drink, no hope) and everything (the restoration of the same) if not to overflowing, at least to joyful recognition of God’s direct action in their lives.
So my thoughts turned to straightforward themes to do with someone unexpectedly coming into your suffering (I could tell you a story…), finding words aren’t needed because of Jesus’ compassion, being willing to touch where it is inappropriate or inadvisable to touch (the “Diana effect”) and considering that when all earthly means of support is gone Jesus can step in.
But I’m not sure that any of these are particularly what God wants me to say this week – surely there is a more specific message for us?
A couple of other things have got me thinking slightly more widely:
The first was today’s posting from Bishop Alan from his recent ‘visitation’ talks… asking his parishes “Where is the fire?” If we as a church want to corporately live out the life of Christ, using the Luke 7:11-17 reading as our inspiration, where are we showing compassion, and where are bringing life to people who are otherwise dead?
Then, via the Text this Week (on Facebook), I found some thoughts about how Christians (like the widow in 1Kings 17:8-24) struggle with feelings of scarcity: we so often dwell on what we don’t have, where our limitations are, and how close to failure we might be, rather than affirming that God provides us with enough to sustain us (the widow finds there is always oil and flour in the vessels because she offers risky generosity to a stranger), so that when we need it we might have abundance of life (which is I’m sure how she felt about the renewed life of her son.)
Somehow to a parish now faced with an impending vacancy (I think, given what Bishop Alan says our departing vicar will like Oxford Diocese as he doesn’t want to chase his tail, or be the ‘Fat Controller’) on top of a £40k deficit but with a desire to meet its commitments to both parish and Diocese, this seems to provide something a little more pertinent to where we are at present.
So tomorrow, I shall see if I can find a sermon out of all this (once the carpet man has been). In the meantime, the major abundance in our lives are the damselflies that flit through the garden and the clouds of lovely Common Blue butterflies up on the back of Blackbushe Airport.