Grace, peace and mercy be multiplied to you from God our Father, and the Lord and Savior, Jesus the Christ. Amen.
Part of our seminary training included being assigned to a congregation or ministry in the community and towns surrounding the seminary. One of my classmates was assigned to what was then called Lutheran Senior City, an assisted and nursing care facility in Columbus. During her time serving with the chaplain, she had an opportunity to preach a couple of Sundays. She shared with us that she quickly learned that no matter how good or dynamic or energetic your sermon might be, you can count on 30 percent of the congregation to fall asleep while you’re preaching!
Serving a church in the heart of the Buckeye Nation, I know that the Sundays following a Saturday night football game are going to be tough for some. One member came to church on such a Sunday for the 8 a.m. service wearing sunglasses – he told me he had an eye infection and needed the shades! I wasn’t the only one who questioned his real motive for the UV protective eye wear.
Yes, I have seen people “checking their eye-lids for cracks” or “prayerfully mediating on the message” while I preach, but I never had anyone fall out of a window mid-sermon.
As Paul preaches, the service goes late into the night, and “Paul talked still longer.” A boy falls from the window to the stony path some three stories below. Notice no one remembers the message that Paul was sharing. They do remember this boy falling to his death and the healing that came upon him.
In those brief moments, wondering if their boy was going to be okay, the roller coaster of emotions flooding them -- from incredible grief to great joy -- the family likely didn’t recall a single word. But they do remember that their boy was alive. Verse 12 – “…they had taken the boy away alive, and were not a little comforted.”
What is remembered is life.
I am reminded of the story of the Prodigal Son.
The father is so filled with joy that his son is alive, he decides to throw a party.
The father begs his eldest son to come celebrate with everyone when his little brother returns, even after squandering away all his inheritance. The father says to the older son, “…we had to celebrate and rejoice, because this brother of yours was dead and has come to life; he was lost and has been found.’” (Luke 15:32)
We had to celebrate. We are not a little comforted.
These days we hear many stories of life and death. It can be overwhelming. Scary. We are also experiencing a roller coaster of emotions. And yet, even in the midst of death, God offers us the promise and hope of life.
We know of the sure and certain hope that we have in Jesus Christ, who dies and rises, so that death has lost its sting, and the promise of life forever in God is ours.
Let us celebrate the gift of life.
And let’s stay awake for those sermons (or at least make sure you have a soft place to land when you nod off!).
Let us pray:
In sure and certain hope, O Lord, we turn to you. Thank you for the gift of life. Abundant Life. Eternal Life. Amen.