1 Kings 17:8-16 (17-24) and Luke 7:11-17
I'm much taken by the story of Elijah & the widow of Zarephath. I love the story of the oil & flour that lasts - but also like the extension into the story of the widow's son, which of course lies nicely alongside the raising of the son of the widow of Nain by Jesus.
So what do we make of these stories?
On one level the Elijah story could just look like 'you scratch my back & I'll scratch yours' - the woman has cared for Elijah in the famine & now he cares for her by raising her son.
But the fact that she is named as a widow, give the story more depth. God's concern for a social justice that extends especially to 'widows and orphans' is well attested in the Old Testament. And what can be more heart-rending than a woman who has not only lost her husband, but also her son? So God's justice & God's kingdom demands action.
Elijah is moved to pity for the woman of Zarephath: just as Jesus is moved to pity for the woman of Nain - and that is when God's power breaks into the story - the power of life beyond death: and the son of each woman lives.
It is hard not to face the challenge 'why these 2 sons & not all the others?'. And maybe that's always the challenge of healing - what about those who are not healed? I hope it makes sense to say that these extra-ordinary cases reveal something of God's will for us all - life and not death, wholeness and happiness: yet ultimately our time on earth is limited and is only the gateway to true life.
Challenging... more to follow I hope.