Monthly Archives: June 2022

Miracles Happen

The Gospel of Our Lord Jesus Christ According to Luke

 Soon afterward he went to a town called Nain, and his disciples and a great crowd went with him. As he drew near to the gate of the town, behold, a man who had died was being carried out, the only son of his mother, and she was a widow, and a considerable crowd from the town was with her. 

 And when the Lord saw her, he had compassion on her and  said to her, “Do not weep.” Then he came up and touched the bier, and the bearers stood still. And he said, “Young man, I say to you, arise.” And the dead man sat up and began to speak, and Jesus gave him to his mother. 

 Fear seized them all, and they glorified God, saying, “A great prophet has arisen among us!” and  God has visited his people!” 

And this report about him spread through the whole of Judea and all the surrounding country. (Luke 7:11-17)


A woman had lost a dear  child, a lovely little girl, and was, as you might imagine, brokenhearted. She was crazy with grief, as she sat beside her child’s deathbed.

A neighbour, taking pity on her told her of a miracle man who could raise even the dead, and suggested she go to him. Which she did.

She told the man her story, and he listened with compassion, and wept with her, and asked how he could help her. She said, “Give me back my child.”

He looked at her with pity, and said that yes, he could bring back her child, if she would go to every house in her village, and find which had not lost a loved one. If she could find a home where a loved one had not been lost, he would restore her child to life.

She went and knocked on every door, and found not one family that had not had experienced the grief that she was experiencing.

Death is a part of us all.

Isn’t it?

Jesus, we are told, was on a journey to Nain, with his disciples, and came upon a funeral procession for a young man, his mother’s only child, and since she was a widow, her only support. This boy was her treasure.

The procession may have been going on further, to the cemetery of rock tombs between Nain and the next village of Endor. That cemetery is still there.

Jesus, seeing the woman’s grief, and being filled with compassion for her, went to the bier. It was not a coffin. They were not used in the east. Very often a long wicker basket would be used for carrying the body to the grave.

Jesus reached out to the woman, reassuring her, “Do not weep,” he said.

The he touched the  bier, and the bearers stood still – what a dramatic moment – and he said, “ Young man, I say to you arise, “  and the young man sat up.


Imagine that woman’s relief.

Imagine the effect on the mourners, those carrying the bier, the large crowd that had gathered around.

They were all amazed– wouldn’t you be?

“A great prophet had risen among us. God has  visited his people,” they said.

Now there are historical accounts which tell of ancient graves being opened, and sometimes it was obvious that that person had been buried alive. Thought to be dead, but buried alive!

This happened in parts of Europe, and often in Palestine.

The lack of proper medical training, the religious rules about burying the deceased person before a certain time had elapsed, contributed  to this.

It may have been that the young man in this story was in a catatonic trance, or coma, and thought to be dead.

Raising this young man from the dead may have been a miracle of diagnosis.

Whatever version you prefer, he was miraculously saved from death.

Miracles happen all the time.

Miracles have happened in your life. 

You may not have known it at the time, but look back and I am sure you will see moments when God touched your life, or the lives of those dear to you.

Because they are not dramatic – no choirs of angels, or bearded healers in long robes – doesn’t mean that miracles do not happen.

Then again, there are those who say when a miracle happens, it’s merely coincidence.  Archbishop of Canterbury William Temple said, that might be so, but when you pray,  coincidences happen more often.

I met a young woman once, the girl friend of a friend of mine, who had devoted ten years of her life to looking after her mother, affected with Alzheimer’s Disease.

She dressed, and washed, and cleaned, and entertained, and fed and nursed her mother for all that time until her mom died.

I asked her how had managed to do all that for so long, and she just said, “She was my mother.”

If anyone asked for a miracle there, it would be that her mother would be well.

And that would have been preferable.

But that daughter wouldn’t have traded those ten years for anything.

She felt gifted to be able to minister to her mom that way.

One little miracle was that her mom had retained her cognition, and had known her for a longer period than she would,  had she been in a nursing home.

Another little miracle was that that young woman had an understanding boss who let her work flexible hours, so she could be with her mother.

Another miracle, and she would attest to this was that she didn’t consider herself to be a particularly empathetic person. She found a well of love and empathy within herself, that if her mother had never been ill, she would not have found.

She would tell you today that she was a more whole person after that ten years than she was before.

She didn’t hear God talking to her.

She didn’t find superhuman strength – she was often exhausted.

But God was with her in that time and she accomplished more than she could ask or imagine.

As the people who saw Jesus raise that man from the dead said,

“God has visited his people.”

He visited her!

What can we do to share in such wondrous works?

Do we have to lay hands on people?

It might help.

Do we have to anoint people?

I am told that it helps greatly,

But perhaps all we have to do is to be open to feeling God working in us, and see, and remark upon, the miracles that he does in our life, and in the lives of others.

Perhaps we have to stop praying to win the lottery, and marvel at how he has provided for us.

Luke tells this story which happened in a place where Elisha had performed a similar miracle, to show us that God was in Jesus, as much as –  nay –  much more than –  he was in the ancient prophets.

That God was once again showing Himself to His people – in a man named Jesus, Son if God.

We may not have the power that was in Jesus, but we can also be part of God visiting His people, now in this time, and this era, and even in this village – and even – dare I say it, in our own family.

In fact I would say it should begin there – in our own family.

I will tell you of a miracle I personally witnessed.

I used to lead worship services at Albright Manor, Beamsville, and one of the volunteer ladies asked me to visit her husband who had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and had been given only a few weeks to live.

She asked me to visit him in hospital, which I did, and also when he was home.

She told me that he wouldn’t accept he was that sick and she wanted me to help him prepare to die.

That’s a hard thing to do for someone who is sure he isn’t going to die.

I did visit though, and prayed with him, even though he wasn’t a bit interested, and so I mostly talked and prayed with his wife.

She told me a lot about her family, her grown up children, and little grandchildren, and one day she confided to me that her husband, while a good father and grandfather, had been a miserable husband – my words  –  not hers. 

She said that he never had a nice word for her. In fact he constantly put her down, and talked to her in her very derogatory way.

She had gotten used to it, but she was worried about him. What would happen to his soul, after him being such a mean man to his wife all those years.

I said to her that she should talk to him about it. She should say something like, “ I know you haven’t meant to, but the way you have always spoken to me has hurt me tremendously all these years.”

The next week, she told me that she had done just that, and he had been so moved to hear that, that he cried. He asked her to forgive him. He said, ‘’You know what a mouth I have. I can’t help it.”

Not only that, but he didn’t die of pancreatic cancer. He lived through that Christmas, and for most of the next year, a good twelve months after that dread prognosis, and died of something entirely different.

And that twelve months was the happiest his wife had been in all their marriage.

Some people would say that he had been healed of pancreatic cancer, and that was the miracle.

I would demur. I say the change in him after over forty years of marriage, and the year of happiness his wife experienced was the miracle.

There is nothing to stop God visiting His people in their home, you know.


  Something to think about

Something to think about……………………………….

One day, a little boy set out to find God. He figured it would be a long trip, so he packed up some Twinkies and a couple of cans of Root Beer, and set out on the journey. Soon, he came to a park, and there, on one of the benches, sat a very old woman with all her possessions in two big green trash bags. She was looking at the pigeons. The little boy sat down next to her and began to watch the pigeons too.

After a while, the little boy was hungry. He pulled out the pack of Twinkies and was getting ready to eat one when something inside told him to offer a Twinkie to the old lady. So he did. She accepted it with a beautiful smile. He thought it was the most beautiful smile he’d ever seen.

When he finished his Twinkie, the little boy reached into his backpack and felt for the two cans of Root Beer. He took one for himself, but again acting intuitively, he held the other out to the woman. Accepting it, she again smiled that beautiful smile.

For a long time, the two sat on that park bench, eating Twinkies and drinking Root Beer, smiling at each other, and watching the pigeons. Neither said a word. Finally, the boy realized it was getting late. Starting to leave, he took a few steps, but then suddenly turned back to the woman and ran and gave her a big hug. Then he spun around and ran all the way home. Her smile was even brighter than before.

When he arrived home, his mother asked the little boy about his day.

“I found God,” he said.

“You did?” asked his mother. “What did God look like?”

“Mom,” he said, “she has the most beautiful smile I’ve ever seen!”

Meanwhile, the old bag lady left the park and went to check in at the homeless shelter. “Sadie,” said the attendant, “what did you do today?”

Sadie smiled her beautiful smile. “Why, I ate Twinkies and drank Root Beer with God in the park!”

“Oh?” quizzed the shelter worker. “And what did God look like?”

“You know,” answered Sadie, “he’s a lot younger than I ever imagined!”

He was made known to them in the breaking of the bread.


  Something Else to Think About……………….

In one of the most powerful episodes of the hit television series M*A*S*H, the stuffy Major Winchester is going through a dark night of the soul. The horror of the war – the death, the carnage, the maiming – has finally gotten to him, and he cracks. He plummets into a deep depression in which he struggles to find answers to life’s most perplexing questions. Questions about God. Questions about life. Questions about death.

In desperation, Major Winchester flees the base hospital and goes up to the battalion aid station where the wounded are first taken from the battlefield. There a medical corpsman calls him over to help with a wounded soldier.

The soldier gasps, “I can’t see anything. Hold my hand!” Winchester says, “Yes, I’ve got you, son.”

The soldier says, “I’m dying.”

And there, at the crossroads of Major Winchester’s questions and a young soldier’s moment of dying, the Major tries to peek over the horizon into eternity.

“Son, can you see anything? Can you hear anything? Can you feel anything? Tell me! Tell me! I HAVE to know what’s there!”

But the dying man doesn’t answer. Instead, as he slips away, the boy lifts up his eyes and simply whispers, “I… smell…bread…”

“When he was at table with them, he took bread, blessed it, and broke it, and gave it to them. Then their eyes were opened, and they recognized him…in the breaking of the bread”

Wonder of Wonders

The Gospel of Our Lord Jesus Christ According to John

Jesus said to the disciples, “I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth; for he will not speak on his own, but will speak whatever he hears, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. He will glorify me, because he will take what is mine and declare it to you. All that the Father has is mine. For this reason I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you.” (John 16:12-15)


Today is Trinity Sunday when we seek to celebrate the God we know as the Trinity, and to somehow understand how One God can be at the same time, three persons.

Usually it is easier to resort to a metaphor – an image that shows how a thing that is one can also be three. The most commonly used is the idea of a stream into which you place your fingers, dividing it into three streams.  One stream really but in effect, and for a time, three streams.

But I think the idea of the Trinity has more to do with how we see God, or rather how we have seen God over the years – centuries – millennia – and how our view of God has progressed or evolved over that period.

What we know of God comes of course, as it should, from the Bible. And reading the Bible, beginning with the Old Testament, and working through the Bible, we can see how the presence of God has been perceived differently over time.

We read about the God of Abraham, and of Jacob,  who in his love for his people, rescued them from starvation by placing them  in Egypt. Joseph the eleventh son of Jacob , who as confidante to the Pharaoh, and the second most powerful man in Egypt was able to offer his family refuge in Goshen, a fertile part of the country.

Then four hundred years later God  again rescued his people, this time from the very people who offered them refuge, but had now become their slave-masters. 

And yet, we read in many passages in the Old Testament, that this compassionate God commanded the Israelites to wipe out all men women and children when taking an enemy city. 

How could that be?

At the back of this seemingly incomprehensible command was the idea that Israelites must not be tainted with the paganism and heathenism of those they conquered. And they saw the God they worshipped as a jealous God.

When Jesus came, it was to show that rather than being a jealous God, or a vengeful God, God was an all loving and forgiving God. A God for all people.

And our knowledge of God has thankfully progressed since then.

Most of what we Christians know of God comes from Jesus, of course. People had seen God as a fearsome being. People had trembled before Him. Or Her.  His thunder frightened even those who worshipped and feared him. His vengeance was something to be feared.

Then the Light of the World, Jesus, came to show us a God that we didn’t know, but have since come to love, and not to fear.

The best way to send an idea, said scientist J. Robert Oppenheimer, is to wrap it up in a person. Jesus was the way God sent his idea to humanity. Or as a little girl said, more simply,” Some people couldn’t hear God whisper, so he sent Jesus to tell them out Loud.”

John projects the same idea when he tells us, “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us.”

When Jesus opens the gates of Heaven we glimpse not judgment, not condemnation but an undeserved, incredible, unending, everlasting, love.

So we find God in the Scriptures, and we find him in Jesus, but we discover more and more about God as we enter into prayer, and communion with Him, over  time.

The Spirit helps us do that.

And Barclay says that God doesn’t only show himself in the words of theologians, or priests; that they are not the only ones who are inspired, but that we learn about God in great poetry, in the words of some of our most lovely hymns, written by those who have been inspired by The Holy Spirit. 

When H.F.Lyte explained how he wrote the words to Abide with me, he said he had no sensation of actually composing the words, but that he wrote them down as if they were being dictated to him.

Handel says that when he wrote the Hallelujah Chorus, he saw the heavens opened and the Great White God sitting on the Throne.

The Holy Spirit has revealed God to authors, and composers, and great preachers, and scientists!

When a scientist makes a discovery that will benefit humankind, or a surgeon discovers a new technique that will save lives and ease pain, or when someone comes up with an inspired way of delivering treatment for deadly disease to those living in undeveloped countries, then God is being revealed. 

Everything we know comes from God. The laws of physics were not invented by scientists, they were there waiting to be discovered.

Before Newton watched the apple fall from the tree and had his revelation about gravity, people weren’t floating in the air, drifting off into space; gravity had always been there. Newton just noticed it and deduced what it was.

Progress in knowing God has come about in the same way.  We discover what has always been there.  

And the Spirit of God, the Holy Spirit, reveals Him today – in what we discover in poetry and music and great works of art – in science, in medicine, even out in space – we get to know more and more about the One who created everything.

But there is another way we know God.

This world has always been hard for Christians. It was hard in the beginning when the church authorities in Jerusalem tried to eliminate the teachings of Jesus.  It was hard in the time of Paul, when Christians were persecuted in Rome. 

It was hard for those who sought the truth about God within their own church, in the time of the Inquisition. 

Today, persecution continues in some countries as sectarian violence takes lives, and churches are burned. 

In this godless society, we can face ridicule and criticism for our Christian views.

In some families Christians are discouraged from attending church by other family members.

The six or seven day work-week, which we thought had gone for ever fifty years ago is back, and makes it difficult for Christians to attend worship on Sunday. It is not easy to be a Christian, today.

Even so, even in this modern world, an endlessly loving God is still being revealed.   

Paul writes that trouble produces fortitude. He says that suffering is like the process where metal is heated in a furnace to purify it, and make it stronger than before.

Suffering makes us better able to face whatever difficulties come our way, Paul says. 

I am reminded of an item I read some time ago.  

It seems someone wanted to ship live fish across the country, in tanks, to enable those who lived far from the ocean to enjoy fresh seafood. 

The best care was taken with the tanks, and the water, and the transportation, but for some reason the fish arrived worse for wear. The flesh was not even pleasant to eat.

Then some bright spark had the idea of putting in each tank another fish, an enemy – a predator – of the fish being transported for eating.

Wonder of wonders, the fish arrived in wonderful condition. 

The effort they had to take to avoid the predator, the pressure they were under, kept those fish in great shape.  

God doesn’t put hardship in our way deliberately, but hardship reveals  something about God that we might otherwise never know; and that is his steadfastness, his faithfulness and his grace, when we are in dire need.  

As the man Jesus walked with those who suffered, God the Creator, walks with us in our suffering, and is revealed  by the Spirit which, , brings to us, all truth.

The Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.

One God, three persons.

The Holy Trinity.