My beloved and I tend to worship God with other Christians twice every weekend: with a Roman Catholic parish on Saturday evening and with a congregation of the United Church of Christ on Sunday morning.
One benefit is getting to sing a wider variety of hymns.
Another is hearing two different sermons on the same Biblical text. (Or, in my case some weeks, hearing one sermon on Saturday and preaching a sermon on Sunday.)
I cannot tell you most of what either preacher said this last weekend. Which is pretty normal. Even when I’m the preacher I don’t remember much of the sermon the next day. Just a main point or two. Or maybe a good illustration.
The text last weekend was the Parable of the Widow and the Unjust Judge.
18 Then Jesus told them a parable about their need to pray always and not to lose heart. 2 He said, “In a certain city there was a judge who neither feared God nor had respect for people. 3 In that city there was a widow who kept coming to him and saying, ‘Grant me justice against my opponent.’ 4 For a while he refused; but later he said to himself, ‘Though I have no fear of God and no respect for anyone, 5 yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will grant her justice, so that she may not wear me out by continually coming.’”Luke 18:1-5 (NRSV)
It’s a parable, a story to make us think. As a parable, there is more than one way to interpret it – even when an interpretation is given in the text (see Luke 18:6-8).
Today I’m remembering the persistence of the widow and the call to not lose heart in prayer – individually (my own life), communally (in the life of the congregation), and world wide. Keep praying. It may not change the situation directly. But it may change me and my response to what is happening. Don’t give up.
But I’m also reconsidering the widow. Who is she, really? Me? You? Us?
Who is she pestering in her persistence? If we are the widow, does that make God the unjust judge?
What if the widow is God? God is the persistent the one. God is the one who never gives up. God pesters the unjust (me?) until the unjust relents and does the right thing.
It’s a parable. Told to make us think.
Thanks be to God for Fr. Michael for naming the widow as God and for all who cause us to rethink what we thought we knew.