November 8, 2015, The Cry of the Widow – Mtr. Kathryn Boswell
Below, we have only the outline of the sermon, not the full text, but you can listen to it by clicking here: 120317_001
The funerals of Joan and Ruth – both widows – we should pay attention to that, notice that, because God has a lot to say about widows in the Bible….
Today’s stories – how powerful a symbol the widow is – the widow of Mark 12 who gives sacrificially, and the widow of 1 Kings who takes Elijah in when she has literally nothing left.
There is also the widow of Nain (Luke 7) – sons were often a widow’s only hope for someone to protect and provide for them.
God holds the widow in his heart in a special way – he is defined by his particular care for widows and orphans, the helpless.
Father of the fatherless and protector of widows is God in his holy habitation.
He executes justice for the fatherless and the widow, and loves the sojourner, giving him food and clothing.
God expected his people to care for the helpless just as he did.
Deuteronomy 27:19– Moses pronounces the blessings and curses as they enter the promised land “Cursed be anyone who perverts the justice due to the sojourner (the immigrant), the fatherless, and the widow.”
Isaiah 1:17– God’s charge to faithless Judah – “Learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression, bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow’s cause.”
Jeremiah 22:3-4—Message to the house of David – “Do no wrong or violence to the resident alien (again, the immigrant), the fatherless, and the widow, nor shed innocent blood in this place.”
God is personally involved, not just issuing commands:
Exodus 22:22-23–“You shall not mistreat any widow or fatherless child. If you do mistreat them, and they cry out to me, I will surely hear their cry, and my wrath will burn, and I will kill you with the sword, and your wives shall become widows and your children fatherless.”
It’s not just an Old Testament thing:
John 19 – Jesus asked John to care for his mother, who was a widow. “Woman, behold your son!” “Behold, your mother!”
And from Acts 6, the first seven Deacons were ordained by the apostles to care for the widows of the church and make sure they were not neglected.
And James wrote: “Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this: to visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world”
We are to be people who care for the widow, and for the orphan, and for all the world despises and forgets about, for all who are alone and friendless, for all who are vulnerable, who have lost the protection of those things we human beings count on for protection.
But widows in the Bible are not just objects of pity. Ruth and Joan were anything but objects of pity. In the Bible and in the world, widows stand as an example to us, of giving of themselves – like Joan, like Ruth, who lost independence and strength and worldly goods, but who never stopped loving this church and giving to us…..how people kept saying at both funerals how much Joan and Ruth loved this church.
Joan and Ruth, and others who give – not just of what they have, but of who they are – who give their whole hearts, to St. Philip’s, they are a big part of what has made St. Philip’s what it is: they are examples for us to follow. We’ve been talking a lot about tithing and pledging, and I am so blessed at the response of people. And here is the real, deepest, most perfect goal of all our giving – to be people like the widow with her last two little coins, to be like the widow with her last cup of flour and spoonful of oil, to be like Joan and Ruth, who pledged themselves, who gave all they are to the people they loved, who gave their hearts to us.