We are making our through the Biblical story, kinda quickly, so we’re just going to hit some highlights. Let me catch you up. Last week, we left King David, David of the newly unified Israel, of the recently claimed and renamed city of Jerusalem, and of the promise that his children would be blessed for generations. When David was dying, he was convinced to name Solomon, son of Bethsheba, as the future king. Solomon built the Temple for God that David had first imagined, with slaves, there were great stories of his wealth and wisdom, and stories of his cruelty and excesses. And when Solomon died, his son Rehoboam took the throne in Jerusalem, yet the smaller northern tribes choose a different son of Solomon, Jeroboam. So this kingdom that David fought so hard for had been split in two. With two kings, two houses of worship, what would become two people and histories.
Ahab was a king of the Northern Kingdom. There were good kings and less good kings. Ahab is not remembered to be good. A lot of that blame, of course, is placed on his wife Jezebel because, the patriarchy. Elijah was the prophet to the king, reminding Ahab to return to worship to the God who brought them out of Egypt and no other. The drought was to be proof that the storm god that Jezebel brought with her was not as powerful.
Elijah had this habit, like some people speak their truth online and then disappear, Elijah had this habit of revealing God’s power then running away in fear. This excursion seemed a bit like running away but also being lead by God.
Elijah leaves the Kingdom, leaves Israel, and heads out to the margins, out to the edge of what was known, out beyond the bounds of where God’s people lived. There, in the city where his greatest adversary, the queen herself, came from, Elijah was lead to someone who knew well what it was to live on the margins.
What we find in the widow, is someone who would have lived on the edge of society even if there hadn’t been a drought that lead to a famine, of course, the dry wadi and barren fields have only exasperated her struggles. She has come to the place in her living where she is making a last meal for her and her son, before they die, starve to death? Close your eyes, do you see her? Her child, still young and unmarried, she, a young adult baring the responsibilities of who unit on her shoulders, she’s thin, her eye’s don’t focus, she’s given up hope, but she can do this one thing. She can give this one thing to her son is a last meal, a last bit of comfort, a last bit of warm bread in his stomach.
And Elijah was brought to her, by God, and he is to ask this widow, this woman without hope of another day, and she took what little she had, and give it to the prophet of God. I don’t think she knew that
It wasn’t her only moment of grief and pain and hopelessness with Elijah near. Despite the oil that wouldn’t run dry and the flour that wouldn’t empty, her son still died. She was alone. She was at risk. This time she might not survive. There’s nothing left to give, to hope for. Her luck had run dry, her future: empty.
And yet.. when Elijah spoke of the God of his people, the God that brings life and freedom and abundance. And somehow, this woman who had no reason to hope, no reason to think the world would turn in her favor, no reason to expect anything good to happen. Some house this woman trusted. She trusted Elijah, and the God he worked for and with. She trusted that what Elijah said this God could do, this God would do. She trusted that this God of life would allow for life, even her life, even her son’s life, even though they were not part of the family had made promises to, even as she was on the outside, the margins, the edges, she trusted.
Today we celebrate All Saints, all those who have returned to God, but continue to be part of the cloud of witnesses in our lives. The thing about remembering is that by remembering, we’re reconnecting to the life and stories of those we’re thinking of. We’re holding the connection that we have, that they are a part of us, in so many different ways. It’s like we bring them close again because in the remembering, we are celebrating, wishing, telling again, reminding ourselves of who they are to us. Even if we wish they were still standing with us.
On All Saints Day, we remember, being close again, those who brought raised us in the faith, who taught us how to live, what it means to be followers of Jesus.
I remember my Grandma Iva, who taught me how important it is to remember people. She had a memory like steal trap, could tell you were her neighbors lived and had moved to—50 years ago, she could name their children and maybe where they lived, and she knew all of this well into her 90’s. I’m lucky to remember folks from high school, or college, or last week.
I remember this year, a family friend Francine who taught me about being gracious and warm and generous to people even those not in your family—we met when I was very young.
I know some of you are remembering with grief today. There’s been a lot of grief this year. There’s been a lot of grief we’ve struggled to learn out to process. For you maybe it seems like all the luck has run dry and everything is loss. For you, maybe it seems like the empty place in your home and your heart will always be painful. For you, maybe it seems hopeless.
Today, we remember this widow. Who had nothing left, again. And still she trusted. Still she gave space for God to show up in a new way, in far off space, beyond how and where God was expected to show up and move. That is one thing we can learn from this Widow. Even in what seems like the most hopeless of situations, sometimes God shows up in unexpected says.
So, this tiny story of this widow, may it be a blessing to us. May it remind us in hopeless times, God still shows up, still moves, still brings life, if we trust, even if it’s just enough trust to get out of the way.