Der Vasken’s Sermon on October 31, 2021

In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.

“Too often we underestimate the power of a touch or the power of a smile or a kind word, the power of a listening ear or an honest compliment or even the smallest act of caring, all of which have the ability to turn a life around.”

I came across this quote last week and I truly liked it. It compliments today’s Bible passage so wonderfully. Today, we meet a woman in the Bible whose name we don’t know, but we know she was a widow from the Village of Nain, which is located about 8 miles south of the City of Nazareth. This widow’s only son had just died. She was devastated. Death took away her only source of hope, her protector, her future, her home.

In her heart was despair. She knew one thing. “When the one, with whom you share your life, dies, they die in a million different places and in a million different ways. They are not just missing from the life you had. They are missing from all the life that is yet to come.” Her son had died and there was nothing she could do about it but weep bitterly. But then something unexpecte4d happened. A stranger came up to her and told her “not to weep” and the rest is history.

There are problems in life that make us feel just like this poor widow because, just like death, some problems are beyond our control. But this miracle shows us that nothing, not even death, is beyond the control of God. It gives us every reason to take our problems—those overwhelming problems that find us in life—to Him.

But this time large crowds followed Jesus from one village to another with the hope of seeing another miracle. On that day when they entered the Village of Nain [Luke 7:11-12], they came upon a funeral procession. First century life in the Middle East was very difficult. Men often died very young. Public funerals were very common. But on that day, Jesus interfered with that funeral procession the moment He learned that the deceased was the only son of a widow.

Why He did that is very clear. He had compassion for the weeping widow. He knew what it was like for a helpless, lonely widow because He grew up in the home of a widow. So He brought love and compassion and hope back to her life.

Right now, you, or someone you know, may also be feeling lonely and helpless just like this widow. This miracle shows us the heart of Christ—a heart that is full of compassion, a heart that will do anything to help us. Compassion is a basic characteristic of Jesus Christ. So, this passage invites us to bring our problems to Him. As we heard this passage read a few moments ago, it comes across as a bit strange at first. If you think about it, it is bizarre to tell a widow, who has lost her only family, to not weep, but that is exactly what Jesus told her. He said to the widow, “do not weep.”

I have been a part of many funerals over the years, and I have heard people try to comfort family members with kind words and often comfort is brought about. But Jesus was not attempting to comfort the widow. He was giving her assurance that everything will be okay again.

In this passage we hear the assurance of God very clearly. He tells us not to be afraid because He is with us, not to feel anxious because He cares for us and not to wee because joy comes in the morning. These are just a few of the many ways He reassures us.

Right now, maybe you, or someone you love, is going through a difficult time in life and maybe doubting the existence of God or His Compassion. If you do, remember that all of us doubt at some point in life. God understands that.

So let me end by sharing what the 46th Psalm says about God. “God is our refuge and our strength, our ever-present help in trouble.” On the day the widow walked behind her dead son’s coffin, she was lost. Her world crashed to an end. She wept from the deepest part of her heart. Then God entered her life and He felt her sorrow and reunited a mother and her son.

When the people of that village saw what He did, they shouted “God has come to help His people.” The Jesus, who raised this widow’s son 2000 years ago, is Who we pray to during the celebration of the Badarak. So, as we sit and listen to the beautiful hymns and prayers of our
Sunday morning services, bring to mind those challenges, those heartaches, those disappointments that have entered your life and ask God to touch them as He touched that widow’s son.

“God is our refuge and our strength, our ever-present help in trouble.” Something for all of us to think about.

Amen.

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