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June 9, 2013 Third Sunday after Pentecost

This week’s readings

Any time there is a widow or an orphan in a story, it’s time to pay attention. From the most vulnerable in Scripture, we learn a lot about trust and faithfulness.

In Feasting on the Word Year C Vol. 3, Marsha M. Wilfong does a good job of placing Elijah and the widow in the whole narrative of Elijah being established as a prophet of Israel. It starts with challenging Ahab and the god that brings rain, Baal. Now that the country is in a drought, These three miracles lead the widow to proclaim that Elijah is a prophet of God. Miracles are God’s way of raising up and identifying his prophets. The psalm echoes the faithfulness of both Elijah and the widow.

Paul’s introduction to Galatians will be disturbing to some. In his passionate conversion to Christianity and his vocal opposition to the institutional leaders of the day, passages like this can be used to justify an arrogant attitude towards people of other faiths and towards the institutions which, for good or for ill, the foundations on which we stand. I would hesitate to model Paul’s way of speaking, but his message for leaders and churches that are so bogged down in history they can not see Christ working in their midst is important. This is a case when we need to hear the message in spite of the messenger.

Jesus’ healing of the widow’s son can be read as a reinforcement of the first reading, or can focus on a different message about healing. In this encounter, Jesus is overcome with compassion for the widow, a real compassion that leads to concrete action, the son coming back to life. We live in a society with very formal traditions around death, traditions that minimize the amount of grief that is actually expressed. Those traditions bring important comfort. They can also objectify grief, and distance us from another’s pain. In much of the world death is a loud, uncomfortable, heartbreaking mess. Jesus walks into that and brings healing. It is the compassion that becomes the spring board for God’s healing that I find so compelling here. We can create so many programs, but if our hearts are not moved to share the Good News and be ministers of reconciliation, then we can do nothing.

What will be moving in the hearts of your gathering this Sunday?

Dawn Leger

About Dawn Leger

I am a priest in the Diocese of Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island, having served in Stouffville, Ontario. I think preaching is a profound and great privilege granted to us by God and our Church. I love the reading, the writing, the proclaiming, the dissecting and the dialogue. I also love to cook, sing, read and laugh, in no particular order.

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7 Responses to June 9, 2013 Third Sunday after Pentecost

  1. Thanks Dawn!

    I think I’m focusing on the word “credibility” … how did Elijah gain credibility … how did Paul Gain credibility … how did Jesus gain credibility.

    Our of that … how credible do we find Jesus to be today … and what does that mean.

    Finally … how credible does the world around us find the church

    Initial pondering.

    • Dawn Leger

      Thanks Mark. The question that comes to my mind, which you may already be asking, is, what makes Jesus credible today.

      I’ve been part of some amazing conversations lately about what faith asks of us. Does it mean taking every word of Scripture as fact? As truth? Are they the same thing? What is the “proof” of Jesus’ identity, and is proof what people of faith should be seeking?

  2. I agree with you Dawn. The keys here are compassion and engagement. There is nothing in the ministry of Jesus, nothing in the involvement of God with God’s people in the Story of the Bible that says distance, clinical analysis, coldness and all the other ills that plague post-post-modernity. The Bible is messy, it’s passionate, it’s deeply engaged and it is real in a raw and compelling way. Our calling then is to wade right in their and get our hands dirty. To feel, to be, and to listen to what God is doing in each situation, no matter how unexpected.

    • Argh! *wade right in there* sorry about that.

      • Dawn Leger

        Sounds like an exciting sermon, Nicole. I think this gospel is scandalous in light of our traditions around death. The scandal then is that Jesus would touch the platform. The bearers were compelled to stand still as he approached. The scandal today is the messiness of the whole scene, when so much of our “death industry” is about keeping things calm and quiet.

  3. That’s right, as my husband, a nurse at the public hospital downtown, can attest. While I do know where I would take the sermon were I preaching, I am not preaching this Sunday at our church (nor am I on the list – our church doesn’t have lay preachers yet). We will be treated to a guest preacher from the Cathedral. Let’s see what he does with it…

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