We all have probably been caretakers and care receivers at some point in our lives. It is the nature of being alive in our world. Many of you may remember a few years back when I had a long battle with Lyme’s Disease. I was lying in bed in pain, unable to sleep, running a fever, just generally feeling and looking like death. Bill had to go to work but worried so much about my care that he wasn’t sure whether to go in or stay home with me. I insisted that I did not need anyone to take care of me. Just leave in the bed and I could care for myself. I was in bed and I would be there when he returned. With the amount of pain I was in there wasn’t too far I was going to go.
But still he worried and my mother-in-law worried as well. So she came over about 10:00AM and let herself in the house and came upstairs and just sat with me as I tried to sleep. She did her best to feed me and worried about my yellowing skin. And she did this every day until I was healthy enough to get out of bed. Though I thought I didn’t need the care, the truth is that I did. I needed to be looked after and to have someone ensure that I was taking my medications, drinking water, and eating. She did this with no complaint, and without being asked. She was my caretaker.
The story of Elijah and the widow of Zarephath is about care taking. A story that shows caring both of the widow caring for Elijah and also of Elijah’s mercy and care for the widow and her son. Why do we take care of people? (allow congregation to participate) We care for people because we are concerned for their well being, because we worry about them, because we take an interest in people’s lives outside of our own. We care for people sometimes because we must; it is what is expected of us. We care because everyone needs someone who will watch out for them in this world. But there are those who don’t have that support from their families, who don’t have a mother-in-law living five minutes away to sit with them. Some people may not have friends or family to care for their needs.
But everyone needs someone to care. I worked with a young mother who had illegally immigrated to the United States from Brazil. She and her husband had no friends and no family here. But she was struggling with her child whose behavior was over the top, his intelligence was through the roof, she was tired and to the point of tears when came to handling him. She had no support from her husband, who preferred to spend time in the bars at night. She was feeling alone and desperate in her struggles.
I sat with her as she cried with a translator communicating for us. But I could tell she needed more than words. She needed a partner, someone to support her and to work together with her. She needed more than her son acting differently. She needed community, family, and friends. So we found some in the classroom and through the Brazilian center for her. They used their resources and culture to help give her the strength to work with her child and to create a better life in America.
Jesus became the caretaker for a widow’s son by raising him from the dead having compassion on the widow who had just lost everything of value in her life. Elijah did the same for the widow who cared for his needs during the draught healing the illness that threatened to claim the life of her son. These stories appear here for a reason. They are meant to show us that we are called to take in interest in the lives of others. We are called to search for ways to make the world a better place through the work we do in Christ’s name. We are called to do one thing in this world and it is simply to care. To care for our families, our friends, our neighbors, our communities, our world, for all those who find themselves in times of need, this is what we have been called to. This is the mission that Christ left with his disciples and this is what comes down to us as believers. We are called to care for God’s people, for all those experiencing hardship, all those in need of care. It is easy to assume that there is someone else looking out for these people but often times there aren’t. It is up to us to have empathy to see the grief upon the widow’s face and to reach out to them in need. Remember what Marj read to us from our scriptures this morning, “When the Lord (Jesus) saw her, he had compassion for her and said to her, “Do not weep.” We are to care for people no matter who they are because they are children of God, because they feel and struggle with the same emotions that we all do.
How might we offer care to others? (Invite congregation to share) Let us go forward into this world opening our hearts to those in need. Let us go into the world, sharing the message of Christ through the work that we do. Let us go forth to live life with the purpose of being a caretaker to those who have been forgotten, for those who are the downtrodden, to those who may not find comfort from anywhere else in their life experiences. For on Communion Sunday, on Food Sunday, this is what we are called to remember. This is our responsibility throughout the year as Disciples of Christ.
 Luke 7: 13, NRSV.
(Based on 1 Kings 17: 8-21 and Luke 7: 11-17)