Saturday, December 17, 2016

nameless

The LORD listened to the voice of Elijah; the life of the child came into him again, and he revived.  Elijah took the child, brought him down from the upper chamber into the house, and gave him to his mother; the Elijah said, "See, your son is alive."  1 Kings 17:22-23

What happened to him?  This child, I mean.  This nameless one who is at death's doorstep (or beyond) and brought back to life.  What did he do after life 'came back' into him again?  Was he successful or a failure; did he do mighty deeds or just go about the daily routine?  We don't know.  Give the culture and attitudes of the time, we aren't even told his name (or that of his mother who is simply the widow of Zarephath).

We don't know, we aren't told, because like so many stories in the Bible, this is not so much about this particular child and his mother.  Yes, the story is to show the authority of the prophet, as he moves towards his confrontation with the priests Baal as well Ahab and Jezebel.  More importantly, as usually is the case, the story reminds us of what God is capable of doing through us.  Just as Jesus does so many times in his life and ministry, we are pointed towards God.

Towards a God who listens.  A God who listens to us.  But the first step in the process, according to this story, is that we are the ones who have to listen first.  Just as Elijah did in listening to the child's mother, do we listen to the cries around us, to the hopes, to the voices of all the nameless around us?

Do we listen
   to the mother who needs medical care for a child,
      or do we just discount her as someone gaming the system;
   to the father who needs a car repaired to get to work,
      or do we send him around the corner to the next church;
   to the teenager who struggles with loneliness,
      or do we just brush her aside on our way to important meetings?

Do we listen to the nameless, the voiceless, around us?

Do we listen to God, who speaks for them and knows them by name, and would have us care for them?

(c) 2016 Thom M. Shuman

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