Third Sunday after Pentecost
Luke 7: 11-17
Rev. Mark Vickers

June 5, 2016

Luke 7:11-17: 11 Soon afterward, Jesus went to a town called Nain, and his disciples and a large crowd went along with him. 12 As he approached the town gate, a dead person was being carried out—the only son of his mother, and she was a widow. And a large crowd from the town was with her. 13 When the Lord saw her, his heart went out to her and he said, “Don’t cry.” 14 Then he went up and touched the bier they were carrying him on, and the bearers stood still. He said, “Young man, I say to you, get up!” 15 The dead man sat up and began to talk, and Jesus gave him back to his mother.

16 They were all filled with awe and praised God. “A great prophet has appeared among us,” they said. “God has come to help his people.” 17 This news about Jesus spread throughout Judea and the surrounding country.

Just when we think we should be ready for a little happiness, maybe a light summer moment of refreshment in our scripture, we get hammered with a Gospel story that would rock anybody’s world. 

Jesus heads to the little known town of Nain. Confronting a woman, who is already a widow, bringing her deceased son to the gates of the city for burial. Imagine, a widow burying her only child! My friends, I wear half of that t-shirt and I will lay claim that I never want to wear the whole shirt. This is an earth shattering story. A story of ultimate death. As we name it in the field of bereavement education, it could lead to complicated grief or better yet, profound grief. I believe the woman was well on her way to that stage in her life when Jesus confronted her. Yet something happens in the ordinary moment of the day. Jesus, and you guessed it, His crowd, were lingering near this small town. In reading this text we have to keep in mind that just last week, Jesus healed the sick servant of the Roman Centurion based on his “magnificent faith” and asking Jesus to just “say the Word.” Now things get even more interesting. This is not sickness my friends, but death! There is no healing to death. But Jesus is present. Jesus touches the bier upon which the widow’s son laid and says, “Young man, I say to you, arise!” My friends this was not a healing story; this is a resurrection story. It is a story that reminds us that Jesus has the last word over death! Death does not win. Right here in the midst of such a remarkable story we hear that reminder. 

You know it’s tough to be Easter people! It’s tough to be Easter people, because we want Easter to be one day, not a series of days and Sundays that interrupt our early days of summer and a time when we say, “whew…. we finally get to relax!” But you know, being people of the resurrected Jesus is hard work. We are reminded that what comes after the resurrection is hard work. Luke says in so many words and stories that when Jesus shows up, “we are surprised to discover that death does not have the last word, that the future is more open than we first thought, and that our sense of time and possibility is disrupted by his resurrected appearance”, this according to Will Willimon. We understand in this complex situation that we are not in control. Life and death continue to happen in post-resurrection time. When we thought it should to an end following Easter, often times it picks up speed. Funerals continue to happen, people continues to get sick, life continues to happen in the midst of our post-Easter life. We don’t get to take a break, we don’t get to relax. In fact, it’s just the opposite, we are expected to be busy, we are expected to be about the ‘work of Jesus’, we are going to be surprised, and challenged when our expectations are disrupted, making our lives EVEN more surprising than they would have been had we not been walking with Jesus. 

So our post-resurrection, Easter life continues with the understanding that we have to work hard when life becomes difficult and out of the ordinary for us. But in retrospect, being a Christian requires us to be “un-ordinary!” To be a Christian in the midst of what we call “Ordinary Time” is the call to be un-ordinary. Just as Jesus was unordinary when he touched the bier the dead son was laying on and called him to rise, so are we to be unordinary in our actions with those around us. With those who need to be “raised” in their own ways. We are to be the ones who remind those around us that death does not have the last word! That there is more to life than just going through the motions when it appears that death has conquered us. We are to be the one’s who offer the raising power of resurrection to those who are bogged down in the grave of life and fear no way out. We are to be the ones who offer the hope of new life in the midst of a dark and dreary world.    

That is our work of Ordinary Time! To be unordinary people with a mission to be unordinary Christians. Therefore, let us come to be refueled, to gain the energy that we need to be “unordinary,” to be those that offer a new life in a world that is filled with death, sickness, sadness, and grief. Come, let us become more unordinary!