Monday, May 31, 2010

Pentecost 2c - 1 Kings 17:8-24

When I was 11 my family visited the American military cemetery at Colleville-sur-Mer which sits on the bluffs above D-Day’s Omaha beach. It was a beautiful sunny day in 1968 and all I wanted to do was explore the remaining WWII fortifications and play solider with my brother. I was stopped by the sight of row upon row of perfectly aligned white marble crosses that seemed to go on forever. It is a painfully beautiful sight where conversation, if any, is held in hushed tones as if talking any louder would dishonor the dead. I can’t say for certain but I think even an 11 year old boy might have been moved to tears on such sacred ground. The widow weeping gives her only son to the prophet whose presence she assumes has led to his death. “What do you have against me, O man of God?” The prophet is equally pained and questions the intention of the One for whom he speaks. Why, O Lord, have you killed the widow’s son? I imagine not a few of the 9,387 who lie above the beach, or the 1,557 never found, whose names etched in the stone colonnade are all that remain, had mothers like the widow who wept their questions, “Why?” or like the prophet accused God of less than holy intentions. No doubt the mothers of the 21,222 Germans at La Cambe, asked the same question. Elijah stretched out three times on the breath-less body of the widow’s son and the Lord restored his life so that returned to his mother she believed the truth; life is stronger than death. The lifeless body of the Lord, stretched out three days in the darkness of death, burst forth from the tomb so that one day those slain in the course of human conflict might be revived and know the truth; life is stronger than death. When at last the nations learn to study war no more and death is swallowed up in victory those who wait in the silent sleep of death at places like Colleville-sur-Mer and La Cambe will meet again, not as brothers in arms, but as brothers in the arms the Lord.

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