First of all, I want to apologize for the tardy nature of this post (although I’m not sure how many of you out there even noticed…). After service on Sunday, a bunch of us had lunch together then travelled out to Richmond to check out the Titanic exhibit that is on display, and yesterday just got away from me. But here we are.
The Titanic exhibit was quite interesting (for me at least, I like learning about old stuff), but I quite honestly was afraid for my kids, who we brought with us. As some of you might know, my kids (well, at least one of them but the others are following suit somewhat) are quite sensitive and stories about death and loss hit them very hard. Feelings of sadness, especially if felt by others, make them visibly uncomfortable as they acutely empathize with that specific emotion. I sometimes find that it is just easier to shield them from feeling sad than it is to help them deal with it.
Because well… sadness is uncomfortable.
When people cry in front of us we offer a tissue if we have it, almost as a plea for them to get it together. When people look destitute around us we look the other way in hopes they don’t ask us for any help that we might not be willing to give. We avoid talking about sad subjects just in case it triggers in someone an emotion that we just aren’t ready to deal with. So yeah, it sometimes gets uncomfortable.
So we side-skirt, we change the subject, we avoid. We overlook, we ignore, we walk away. We justify, we make excuses, we deflect.
…yet, we still feel sad.
In these bible times, there was little out there that was worse than being a widow. As a woman who loses her husband, she is essentially damaged goods. And if the widow has no male offspring, she would have no control over her late husband’s assets as she wouldn’t be regarded as capable to. This leaves a widow open to and an easy target exploitation and manipulation. This leaves a widow often very poor, outcasted, and overlooked. It is very sad indeed.
But here in these readings we get two stories of widows who, in spite of their difficult situations, reach out in hospitality and graciousness. They reach out with love and support. They reach out, without expectation of any kind of reciprocation, because although the world told them different, they were part of a community.
I know, many people would think this is about a “give until it hurts” type message. Some think this passage tells us to put more in the offering plate. I’ve heard in the past that these passages are examples of how God blesses those who are generous way beyond their means.
However, I think they are more about community, support, and care. I see in these stories examples of generosity, yes, but more about finding identity in God rather than in the system. I read these passages and hear not a call to give more, but a plea to love more.
For it is through loving others that we see love. It is through supporting others in their times of need that we are supported. It is through being gracious to others that we might know the true grace that comes from God our maker and redeemer.
I believe this is at the heart of the gospel. In the denying of a system that tells us money and power and strength are everything, we can instead rely on God’s graciousness, love, and community. In the denying of a system that insists on war and violence to get our way, we can learn to lean on each other for support and compassion. In the denying of a system that teaches us who is better and more deserving than others, we can see the value and worth of each individual in the eternal body of Christ.
This coming Remembrance day, the 100th anniversary since the armistice of the first great war, let us remember and honour those who lost their lives because of this system, that we might push ahead in our journey towards peace.
Have a blessed week, everyone.