Tuesday, June 01, 2010

1 Kings 17:8-24

Pentecost +2 - Year C

1 Kings 17:8-24

Nain? Zarephath? There are widows and soon to be widows all over the place - even in the place you are. A part of our work is to not narrow a definition of widow beyond that of the root of "widow" in Hebrew - 'alam, "one unable to speak" and, by extension, unable to be spoken for.

In this larger role of being silenced, we can get beyond our usual picture of a widow - "a woman who has lost her husband by death and usually has not remarried."

Who is being silenced these day? There is widowhood.

Of interest is the possibility of there having been an Order of Widows in the early Church - see references in 1 Timothy 5:9-16, through to the 3rd century Didascalia Apostolorum, and beyond.

It may be time to return to officially recognizing and affirming an Order of the Silenced that we might hear their story from their own lips and not just talk about people who are not able to be at the table. In some denominations the silenced person is a gay man or lesbian (some narrow that silencing to ordination, but that doesn't help the silencing and shunning). In many places the silenced include an immigrant without official papers. Additionally there are all those who by age or class or educational/economic status or (_____, your experience of a silenced person) cannot be heard by those in power.

Traditionally an Order of the Silenced was authorized to engage in prayer, which seems safe enough. I expect, however, that their prayers all kept coming back to Jesus' prayer, "Forgive them, they don't know what they are doing" and a correlative, "Wake them to what division is caused by silencing people and help them engage them in a new common-unity."

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