Today’s Scriptures: Lectionary selections from the Revised Common Lectionary Year C
1 Kings 17:8-24
Each spring my garden begins (mostly) from scratch (depending on how cold the previous turned out to be). From time to time one of the plants survives the winter and grows out from the root. Even when that happens, I transplant the survivor to a new location because I rotate the garden plants each year – good stewardship of the land. Today’s scriptures are about transformation- from the replenishing bit of meal and resurrected sons to the turnaround of Paul’s heart from one zealous for the old ways to someone equally zealous for the Way.
Despite an ongoing drought with no new grain the jar of meal and jug of oil never ran out in the story from 1 Kings. The widow had enough faith to follow Elijah’s command. She was prepared to make her last meal and then die with her son. Her gamble paid off: she not only had enough food for herself and her son, but also for Elijah. Her faith carried them through, but the depth of the faith was just enough for that. When her son became ill and died, she doubted the God who had saved them just to let them die. It was only after Elijah’s appeals to the Lord resurrected her son that she proclaimed, “Now I know that you are a man of God….”
The Gospel passage includes a similar passage. A widow’s son has died. Jesus has compassion and resurrects the son. The act created awe (fear) among the members of the funeral party. Each person present recognized the power of Jesus shared the story about him throughout the region. Their ideas about the presence of God in their world were changed and they believed again that God was with them.
The most dramatic transformation in this week’s scriptures is that of Paul. In yet another passage he recalls his history of persecuting the followers of Christ because he so believed in the law and traditions of his people. He reveals a prophetic calling – “…God, who had set me apart before I was born….” It was only when he encountered Jesus that he realized the calling was for something different. That same zeal turned from persecuting believers to converting unbelievers – in particular non-Jews as he traveled around the Roman empire.
We do not live in a world with prophets and messiahs resurrecting children out of compassion for their parents. For whatever reason, God has not continued those events into our time. What has continued, through the presence of the Holy Spirit, is the spiritual transformation as experienced by Paul. Each one of us has the opportunity to have our hearts and minds transformed to do the ministry for which we have been called. Like Paul, we were all set apart before birth to accomplish the work of God in our time.
Whether we realize it or not, we are daily transformed. It is what we do with that transformation that speaks to our faith.
Revised Common Lectionary Daily Readings, copyright © 2005 Consultation on Common Texts. www.commontexts.org