The Widow seems to be at the center today in the readings. From Elijah to Jesus. The story about Elijah and the poor good-hearted widow is echoed in the Gospel about the poor good-hearted widow giving her two small coins.
Many times, throughout the Old Testament we read about the Widow, the Orphan and the Stranger. Almost like a chorus. That God embraces with pity and looks with mercy on the Widow, the Orphan and the Stranger. It is evident that lonely widows, poor orphaned children and refugees or immigrants are especially vulnerable. They can only have a good and safe life, if others help. That is why God keeps a special watch over them – and we should do the same.
The widow, the orphan and the stranger.
The widow. We have just celebrated All Saints Sunday last Sunday. Remembering our loved and lost ones. Lighting candles of faith and hope, as we do believe that they now are in God’s eternal light and in our loving memory. In the pews this morning and any morning there will be widows and widowers. Men and women who lost their loved ones. Who lost their better half and thus lost some of themselves. A good and strong and long marriage is a gift and a task. Grief and sorrow is the prize of love when we are separated by death.
You can become a widow and widower in a different way too. You can become a widow by death but also by distance. There are marriages and relations, that are dead, even if both parties are still alive and well. Marriages can be dead relations as the distance between the two has killed what once was. Something is gone, and something is dead. You do not mourn or cry publicly, but the grief is still evident. In Hebrew a widow means” that the tongue is tied.” Because there is no one to talk to or with. It feels like your tongue and your words are tied in silence. You can be a widow in different ways. By death or by distance. That is why God keeps a special watch on the widow - because they live in silence and grief.
The Orphan. You can be orphaned in different ways too. You father may have died too soon, too violent, too sudden. You father may have died after a long good life and thus left you orphaned. Yet with good deep memories of love and presence – as some of you today have lost a beloved father. To loose your father is a burden to carry for a child, and it is hard regardless of how old you are.
But you can be orphaned in a different way too. You father might just have been absent. He was out and about, out in the world, living his life away from his child and family. Maybe he is not dead, but the distance and the absence feels like death. The grief, the loss, the anger and the disappointment are there. You do not mourn and cry in public, but the grief is there. Someone is missing, someone is gone. You can be orphaned in different ways, by death or by distance. That is why God keeps a special watch on the orphan – they live in grief.
The Stranger. The alien. The immigrant. The refugee. The stranger that we seem to be so afraid of these years. The stranger, who is outside our comforts zone. Maybe the stranger on her way in the caravan to the land of her dreams and hopes.
We know the feeling of being part of a community. It is nice, safe and good. Such as here in the church among friends or in our closest family. We belong through language, traditions, songs and food. Community is good, yet the absence or the distance can creep into even the best communities, families or friendships. Competition, distance, envy, bitterness, lies or misunderstandings. Suddenly good friendships end and die. You become as strangers. You do not mourn or cry in public, but the grief is still there. Something is dead and gone.
To this beautiful wonderful land of opportunities many generations of people have come as strangers. The Pioneers and the Immigrants. And it is still so. Just as the first brave pioneers or the first Scandinavian Immigrants, there are still strangers coming to make this country their home and safe place. You can feel as a stranger because you lack the language, the family, skills or the work. You can feel that that the others look at you as a stranger, not one of theirs. Just as the widow can feel her tongue is tied, so can the stranger.
All people regardless of native country and origin, long to belong and find a home. To feel safe in order to be able to live. You can be a stranger among your own or in a new country. That is why God keeps a special watch on strangers. They too life in grief, silence and uncertainty.
The Gospel of today is so simple and so profound. “Truly I tell you this poor widow has put in more than all those who are contributing to the treasury. For all of them have contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty has put in everything she had, all she had to live on.”
Look at the Bulletin cover. A beautiful image of the old widow and her coins. She is old and worn, she is wrinkled and poor. Yet she gives. She knows that life is all about giving. Because we do become what we receive and what we give. - Life is about giving. To give your time, energy, presence, honesty, work, love and care. Life is about sharing. To share your time, presence, love and care. We must remember to give, to care for and share our lives with the widows, the orphans and the strangers of our world. As God looks at them with care and love, so we should. The old, the lonely, the orphans, the young ones, the strangers, the lonely and the homeless.
November is the 11th month of the year. November is the month where we remember our loved ones. November month and this day is the day to remember our veterans who fought for freedom dignity and peace. November is the month to remember – and we are reminded today to remember the widow, the orphan and the stranger. November is the month to listen to the beautiful Gospel about the poor widow giving her all out of her poverty, - and then for us to remember to give out of or abundance, our wealth and our youth.
We sing about this in the wonderful old Danish harvest hymn:
“Yes, help me, O God, then to follow your way in using the pound, I was granted. In honest endeavor redeeming each day and sharing with needy ones whatever may be yielded from what I have planted.”
O God, help us to help and to share. To give and to care for the widow, the orphan and the stranger. Amen.