Sunday Worship

 Sunday, November 18, 2018

~  The Vulnerability of Grace  ~

Major Steven

Is it really better to give than receive? My Grandfather, on my Dad’s side, did not like to receive presents on his birthday instead he insisted on giving presents to others on his special day. I still have a wooden craft box that my Grandfather gave to my Dad on one such occasion.

In North American culture there seems to be a predominant undercurrent that says ‘more is better.’ The more we achieve, the more we receive, the better our life. We are taught to ask ‘what is in it for me?’

Even when we do give something away, it is often marketed in our society that we are giving to receive: a good feeling or a sense that we made a difference. It becomes a contest. ‘Look how good we are compared to the next person. Look, I have given so much more.’

Do we ever give because it is just the right thing to do?

In this Sunday’s Bible story we are following the prophet Elijah. God has told him to proclaim to King Ahab that there will be no rain for the next few years except at his word. Elijah is prophesying that there will be a deadly drought.

During this drought God looked after Elijah beside a small stream, but the steam dried up. God then told him to go to Zarephath, a place outside Israel and a widow would feed him there. Elijah was to receive help from someone not from Israel, not of his religion and one of the most vulnerable members of the ancient world.

When Elijah came to the city gate of Zarephath he saw a widow collecting sticks for her last meal with her son (she accepted that this drought meant death for her small family). However, Elijah asked for water and bread, and she gave. She gave before she knew if what Elijah promised (that God would provide) was actually true.

The widow gave, because it was the right thing to do. She did not give to make a name for herself. To this day we only know her as the widow of Zarephath, no other name is given.

As we read in 1 Kings 17:15-16 this is not the end of the story. Elijah and this widow of Zarephath found grace in relationship. Sometime later the widow found herself in the midst of a crisis; her son was dying and eventually stopped breathing.

God worked God’s grace in this relationship. God restored life to the widow’s son. The widow gave all that she had; it was the right thing to do. Elijah gave by speaking God’s life into her boy; it was the right thing to do.

Not all that are hungry will be fed; most who die will not be instantly restored to life. However, God’s grace is found in giving and in relationship. This will give us the strength to carry on during times of vulnerability. We also need to ask, how can we embody God’s grace in this hurting world?

Blessings on your week!