Luke 7:11-17 (NRSV)
11 Soon afterwards he went to a town called Nain, and his disciples and a large crowd went with him. 12 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. 13 When the Lord saw her, he had compassion for her and said to her, "Do not weep." 14 Then he came forward and touched the bier, and the bearers stood still. And he said, "Young man, I say to you, rise!"
15 The dead man sat up and began to speak, and Jesus gave him to his mother. 16 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!" 17 This word about him spread throughout Judea and all the surrounding country.
The man was dead, the whole town was feeling bad. They all turned out for the funeral, to support his widowed mother. A compassionate crowd refused to allow her to be all alone to say good-bye to the last of her family. She also was the one on whom Jesus had compassion. Jesus joined the town folk in their feelings, but he had an additional gift to share.
He shares the word of life. "Young man, I say to you, rise!" It is Jesus that makes this possible. It is Jesus that changes the future from sorrow to joy.
You participate in this ministry, transforming despair to hope, loneliness to community, alienation to reconciliation, death to life. Where will you focus your compassion today? Whose future will you change with the word of life that is within you? Who, because of the work you do, will say, "God has looked favorably on his people!"?
Lord Jesus, change our funeral processions to joyful celebrations of life. Your life is in us. Release it through our words and works – life-giving words of forgiveness, life-giving compassionate acts, life-giving pauses with those who sorrow. As you have given life to us, so empower us to be agents of grace to others. Amen.
Prince of Peace Lutheran Church, Westlake, Ohio
Master of Divinity , 1980
"Whose future will you change with the word of life that is within you?" I don't know, but I do know that's what brought me into this in the first place - and all the troubles that go along with this calling don't overcome the simple joy of speaking words of life. Like he old beer commercial said, "Thanks - I needed that."
The reflection in question came through GodPause at Luther Seminary - for more information, click here.