As [Jesus] approached the gate of the town [of Nain], 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 crowd from the town. When the Lord saw her, he had compassion for her and said to her, “Do not weep.” Then he came foward 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. (Luke 7:12-15).
As I thought about Mother’s Day, I tried to list the mothers in the Bible off the top of my head: Sarah, Hagar, Rebecca, Leah, Rachel, Elizabeth, Mary (Jesus’ mother), and the list can go on and on. But for some reason the story of the widow of Nain stuck in my mind, and I started thinking about what Jesus did for her. For this widow, the day her son was restored to her was really Mother’s Day. In Jesus’ day, widows often were the poorest of the poor because their livelihood depended on the male head of household. Since her husband had died, her son would have been her sole supporter and provider. Upon his death, she would probably have fallen victim to those who exploited and cheated widows out of their money and any property they had. This is similar to the story in 1 Kings 17:8-24 where Elijah raised the widow of Zarephath’s son from the dead. It is hard enough to lose a child. We simply don’t expect our children to die before us. But the loss of support would be an additional challenge for these two women.
Jesus’ raising the young man from the dead was an act of compassion – a sign of the love and grace of God. Throughout the scriptures we encounter passages that encourage us to care for the widows and orphans. It isn’t a charge that is outdated or stale in the 21st century, either. We need to care for those who are widowed, alone, lonely, have no friends. We need to open our hearts to those who need to have a caring neighbor or friend in their lives. Some churches have set up an “adopt a grandparent” program where families would “adopt” someone who had no family. Perhaps we can follow a similar idea by setting up a regular visitation plan. The Caring Ministries Team has been talking about how to do that, and we need to know if there are people either in the congregation or connected with someone in our congregation (they don’t have to attend or be a member) who would like a phone call or a visit. If you think of someone, please let me know, and I’ll put them on the list I have started.
May you have a blessed day! Happy Mother’s Day! Rev. Deb