Sermons 2007
"On Grace", Proper 5C, 10 June 2007, Luke 7:11-17

Home | In the Beginning was the Word, Christmas Day, 25 December 2007, John 1:1-14 | What's Missing? Christmas Eve, 24 December 2007, Luke 2:1-20 | Joseph, the Forgotten One, Advent 4A, 23 December 2007, Matthew 1:18-25 | Come with Joy, Advent 3A, 16 December 2007, Matthew 11:2-11 | Darkness or Light? Advent 1A, 2 December 2007, Matthew 24:37-44 | What Kind of King is He? Proper 29C, 25 November 2007, Luke 23:35-43 | Predictions and the Horseman of the Apocalypse, Proper 28C, 18 Nov 2007, Luke 31:5-19 | Just passing through? Proper 27C , 11 November 2007, Luke 20:20-38 | Not like others? Proper 25C, 28 October 2007, Luke 18:9-14 | "We are bold to say", Proper 24C, 21 October 2007, Luke 18:1-8a | "The ten lepers", Proper 23C, 14 October 2007, Luke 17:11-19 | Proper 22C and Holy Baptism, 7 October 2007 | A taste of cool water, Proper 21C, 30 September 2007, Luke 16:19-31 | We hear what we want to hear, Proper 20C, 23 September 2007, Luke 16:1-13 | "Lost -- but found!" Proper 19C, 16 September 2007, Luke 15:1-10 | "Who is coming to dinner?" Proper 17C, 2 September 2007, Luke 14:1, 7-14 | Doors and narrow gates, Proper 16C, 26 August 2007, Luke 13:22-30 | "Fire to the earth", Proper 15C, 19 August 2007, Luke 12:49-56 | "Do not be afraid, little flock', Proper 14C, 12 August 2007, Luke 12:32-40 | "How much is enough?" Proper 13C , 5 August 2007, Luke 12:13-21 | "Lord, teach us to pray" Proper 12C, 29 July 2007, Luke 11:1-13 | "The Better Part?" Proper 11C, 22 July 2007, Luke 10:38-42 | The Good Samaritan -- the Summary of the Law" Proper 10C, 15 July 2007, Luke 10:25-37 | "Travel Light!" Proper 9C, 8 July 2007, Luke 10:1-12, 16-20 | "Independence Day" Proper 8C, 1 July 2007, Luke 9:51-62 | "Three Questions", Proper 7C, 24 Jun 2007, Luke 9:18-24 | "In or Out?" Proper 6C, 17 June 2007, Luke 7:36-50 | "On Grace", Proper 5C, 10 June 2007, Luke 7:11-17 | Trinity C, 3 June 2007 | Pentecost C, 27 May 2007 | "Unity and Diversity" Easter 7C, 20 May 2007, John 17:20-26 | "Come, Holy Spirit, Come" Easter 6C, 13 May 2007, John 14:23-29 | "What is this thing called love?" Easter 5C, 6 May 2007, John 13:31-35 | "Numbers and Sheep", Easter 4C, 29 April 2007, John 10:22-30 | Virginia Tech, Easter 3C, 22 April 2007 Revelation 6:8-10 | Thomas Doubter and Believer, Easter 2C, 15 April 2007. John 20: 19-31 | ""Why do you look for the living among the dead?" Easter Sunday, 8 April 2007, Luke 24:1-10 | Good Friday 6 April 2007 | Maundy Thursday 5 April 2007 | Why are we not surprised? Palm/Passion Sunday C, 1 April 2007, Luke 22:39-23:50 | Party or Pout? Lent 4C, 18 March 2007, Luke 15:11-32 | To Stand on the Mountaintop, Lent 3C, 11 March 2007, Exodus 3:1-15 | "Ways Not Taken", Lent 2C, 4 March 2007. Luke 13:22-35 | "Liminal Thresholds and Lintels", Lent 1C, 25 February 2007, Luke 4:1-13 | Ash Wednesday Meditation 2007 | "Transfiguration and Transformation, Epiphany Last C, 18 February 2007, Luke 9:28-36 | "Weal and Woe", Epiphany 6C, 11 February 2007, Luke 6:17-26 | "Who, me?" Epiphany 5C, 4 February 2007, Luke 5:1-11 | "Filled with rage!" Epiphany 4C, 28 January 2007, Luke 4:21-32 | "The Spirit of the Lord is upon us," Epiphany 3C, 21 January 2007, Luke 4:14-21 | "Weddings and Miracles," Epiphany 2C, 14 January 2007, John 2:1-11 | Schism and Epiphany, Epiphany 1C, 7 Dec 2007, Luke 3:15-16, 21-22

Proper 5C 2007 1 Kings 17:17-24; Luke 7:11-17

During my three years between the Army and Seminary I learned of a colleague in the Pentagon named Moe Baum who had a severe heart disease. He had had several heart transplants but for some reason unknown to the doctors his body rejected each one of them. He knew his days were numbered. And being a wise and practical man he planned his last days including his own memorial service right down to the last detail.

One thing he did that I noted with great interest was plan his own wake. He picked the day, rented an expensive hotel ballroom, arranged for tables full of food, and open bars in every corner and along every wall. Another friend asked him, “Moe, how can you be sure you’ll be dead by then?” Moe answered, “Dead? What do you mean dead? I’m not going to plan this great wake and not be there to enjoy it.” Moe’s last heart gave out on him two weeks after the wake. We all gathered and thought that we too would do the same thing for ourselves.

I know another long service Regular Army officer, who retired and became an Episcopal priest. He once spent a day with me before he entered seminary as part of his discernment. He and his wife lost their son in a tragic automobile accident during the boy’s early teens. The father, however proclaims to the world, the strength of his faith in resurrection. His email address is “He’”.

I can’t remember the name of the film – I think it was a Paul Newman movie – but it begins with a funeral procession in New Orleans. The dirge like music of a New Orleans jazz brass band is heard, slowly leading the coffin hoisted on the shoulders of a dozen strong men, weeping and wailing. The procession comes up the street to a corner where it turns to the right. There’s a halt as there is an accident and the coffin is dropped by the pall bearers. Confusion reigns as the mourners gather around, the coffin hidden from view by the crowd. In a moment, the coffin is back up on the shoulders of the pall bearers. The scam is revealed to the movie audience as the pall bearers are no longer weeping, and the band launches into a lively rendition of “When the Saints Come Marching In.” And marches off smartly. The now clearly very much alive former corpse, once wanted by the police, has escaped through the false bottom of the coffin and is lost in the crowd. No need to march to the burial ground. (1)

In today’s gospel lesson, another procession is taking place. It, too, is a burial procession. But there is no brass band. It was not much like some of our own burial customs: A fancy Cadillac hearse, followed by one or more Cadillac limousines, followed perhaps by a long line of cars, lights on, concerned not to lose their place in the line in the traffic.

No, this scene was at once more primitive and personal. No country or city traffic to contend with in this procession. No t motorists disturbed that they were delayed a few minutes for the funeral. No, this is a village scene, people on foot, following the widowed mother who is following the professional mourners with their cymbals, flutes and high-pitched shrieking and wailing.

It is a Palestinian village scene in Nain, just a short distance from Nazareth (Jesus' hometown), and a day's walk from Capernaum (Jesus' new, adopted town). The pallbearers are carrying the body of a young man in a long wicker basket covered by a shroud for burial outside the city. Except for very important people, ancient Jews buried their dead outside the city, usually on the day of death or the next day. There was no embalming, only anointing with oils and spices.

The scene was dramatic enough: the dead man was the only son of his mother, and she was a widow. The sorrow of the ages followed her. Her son was her only hope for a secure old age. And now he is dead. Nonetheless, a great crowd followed the procession, indicating sympathy and support at least for the time being. (2)

This, too is a funeral procession halted and the trip to the cemetery ended. The grieving mother says nothing to Jesus, she just continues to weep. She doesn’t beg, or reach out to touch him. She simply stands thee behind the body of her dead son and weeps.

When the Lord Jesus saw her, he had compassion for her and said to her, "Do not weep." Then he came forward and touched the bier, and the bearers stood still. And he said, "Young man, I say to you, rise!" The dead man sat up and began to speak, and Jesus gave him to his mother.

We do not know if either man or mother thanked Jesus. We know that fear seized all of them. They were not ready for something so unexpected.

Probably this story is not meant to teach us about petitions. Nor even meant to teach us about thanksgiving. It’s probably meant to teach us something about grace. Pure unadulterated and unearned grace. And about the compassionate love of God that abounds and surrounds us even today.


1. This story recalled by a similar one in “From Procession to Party", by The Rev. Dr. Kim Buchanan, Day 1
2. eSermons Illustrations for Proper 5C.