1 Kings 17:8-24; Luke 7:11-17
These widows stories are so intertwined in Luke's gospel. Earlier you may remember, Jesus is almost thrown off a cliff for proclaiming how a prophet is not accepted in his own hometown using the widow of Zarapheth as one of the few God saves. Jesus goes outside of the Jewish faith tradition and today he does it again. So much so the crowd is afraid of him.
Fear, when there is a proposed change to the way we do things there is fear. Jesus by reaching out to those on the margins of society in Luke is proposing this to the Jewish faith. It's not an accident the first hearings are of a Roman Centurions servant and this widow. They are on the margins of society, the ones people don't want to deal with. Here is Jesus in the midst of them helping, healing, raising and it's scary to the crowd.
Just think of our own little jokes we make around change. "how many Episcopalians does it take to change a lightbulb? Three, one to notice it and two to form the committee on how or whether it should be changed." Or "change who said the word change?" We joke about the things we are fearful of. We try to make them lighter and dismiss them and yet we are here this morning with fear and without.
Here's the thing. These two widow stories involve death. First the widow of Zarapheth and making the cake of bread. She decides to trust, not fear, she expressed her fear and then does what Elijah asks. Then when her son dies she blames him for her trust because this encounter still resulted in what she feared, but again she trusts and turns over her son and Elijah brings him back. Restores her life. Even though she is not a Jew. Even though there is no reason for her to trust this man she doesn't know she does. Her life is drastically changed because of her trust.
Luke's story. There is so much richness in here. Jesus is the one moved by compassion, he even gives the son to the mother after he is raised. The crowd is afraid. Afraid that he would touch something unclean, afraid God restored that which is broken, afraid God sees the people we put into the margins of life and society, afraid God may be asking us to change how we treat those people.
Fear can take and bond us into silence, throwing Jesus off the cliff to silence or fear can propel us to take a real hard look at what needs to change. Change is a part of truly living. Change, big change is a huge step. Change is something we should embrace as the church because even at the edge and precipice of death we can see life. We can embrace newness, we can take it back and build new communities. With a belief that change doesn't break us, change heals us.