RCL C Proper 5 Complementary
I Kings 17:17-24, Psalm 30, Galatians 1:11-22, Saint Luke 7:11-17
Zarephath and Nain are out-of-the-way and inconsequential towns. Except for the Lessons today, they are unknown. Neither their location, nor their prominence, nor their wealth distinguish them from any other places off the beaten track. But that does not keep those dusty towns unknown. The Lord God chooses to disclose himself and his ways in those remote places. Something close to the heart of God, something very important to the meaning of creation comes to light in those far away towns in the Lessons today.
And that something is this. Only the author of life can confer life. No one but God can create and bring life from dust. And the presence and activity of the author of life give us the meaning of our world and the meaning of the entire world. Zarephath’s and Nain’s inconsequentiality thus becomes a deep and important consequentiality. The last shall be first, as we often hear in the Scriptures.
The Old Testament Lesson and the Gospel today begin with widows who lose their sons. Elijah brings back to life the son of the widow of Zarephath. And Jesus brings back to life the son of the widow of Nain. A man of God and a man who is God perform the same miracle. The certainly dead become the certainly alive. The last shall be first, and the dead shall live.
That miracle turns our expectation and our understanding upside-down. Death is supposed to be certain. But the Lord God discloses himself to be the God of the living and not the God of the dead. The Lord God is the author of life, and the author of life gives life over and over again. That is God. And that is what God does.
And so, the Scriptures, and Elijah, and Jesus open to us a world very different from what we usually accept as a certainty. They disclose a world of meaning, a world that God rules, and a world where the unexpected rightly is to be expected.
The dead sons of the widows are not effects without a cause; they are not random and unconnected data; they are linked directly to the author of life who discloses himself by giving life over and over again. The author of life raises them from the dead to remind us who made the world and all that therein is. The author of life raises them from the dead to remind us that when we face the choice of meaninglessness or God, we should hold out for God.