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Sunday, April 21, 2013
Today’s Reading | Luke 7:1–17
After Jesus had finished all his sayings in the hearing of the people, he entered Capernaum. A centurion there had a slave whom he valued highly, and who was ill and close to death. When he heard about Jesus, he sent some Jewish elders to him, asking him to come and heal his slave. When they came to Jesus, they appealed to him earnestly, saying, “He is worthy of having you do this for him, for he loves our people, and it is he who built our synagogue for us.” And Jesus went with them, but when he was not far from the house, the centurion sent friends to say to him, “Lord, do not trouble yourself, for I am not worthy to have you come under my roof; therefore I did not presume to come to you. But only speak the word, and let my servant be healed. For I also am a man set under authority, with soldiers under me; and I say to one, ‘Go,’ and he goes, and to another, ‘Come,’ and he comes, and to my slave, ‘Do this,’ and the slave does it.” When Jesus heard this he was amazed at him, and turning to the crowd that followed him, he said, “I tell you, not even in Israel have I found such faith.” When those who had been sent returned to the house, they found the slave in good health.
Soon afterwards he went to a town called Nain, and his disciples and a large crowd went with him. As he approached the gate of the town, a man who had died was being carried out. He was his mother’s only son, and she was a widow; and with her was a large crowd from the town. When the Lord 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. Fear seized all of them; and they glorified God, saying, “A great prophet has risen among us!” and “God has looked favorably on his people!” This word about him spread throughout Judea and all the surrounding country. (NRSV)
It seems the story line of sickness and death is the same every time and everywhere. How many times have we heard “My dad/grandmother/friend/colleague got sick and died”? According to the American Cancer Society, over 1.5 million new cases of cancer will be diagnosed in America this year alone, and more than 550,000 people will die of cancer this year. This means today, Sunday, April 21, in the United States roughly 4,100 people will be diagnosed with cancer and 1,500 people will die of cancer. And that’s just cancer. Sickness and death—same story different day.
When was the last time you heard the other story: “Last week my friend was sick and then this guy healed him”? Or “Last week my son died and during the funeral this guy showed up and brought him back to life”? I’m guessing not many of us have heard that story. But if you read Luke 7, you will. Two stories, two people, sickness and death, but in these cases the power and authority of sickness and death is usurped by the power and authority of the God made man—Jesus Christ.
These two stories are old stories, other world stories, and yes, they look, feel, and sound far away, and they are. But they are also seeds whereby when we read them and then read them again and think about them—they begin to sprout and take root. That is why Luke told these stories so that in spite of the 1,500 cancer deaths today, in spite of the 4,100 new diagnoses of cancer today, maybe just maybe that isn’t the final story—maybe today, Sunday, April 21, around the world, the power and authority of sickness and death has been overcome by the power and authority of a crucified and resurrected God made man—Jesus Christ. Do I believe, again today?
Dear God, help me to believe that sickness and death have been defeated by your resurrected Son, Jesus Christ. Amen.
Written by Daniel Holladay, Administrative Assistant to Children, Youth, and Family Ministry and the Day School
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