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Which Way to Turn?

Sweetwater Recorder

By Ronald G. Currell

St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church,

Jesus said, "Young man, I say unto thee, Arise."

Jesus had embarked upon His Great Mission with haste. He had a purpose and all His energies were poured into its vessel. The Scriptures show us that from the time of His temptation on He is preaching the Kingdom of God to all who will listen in every town He can visit. We can feel through the tension in the Gospel narratives that He will allow nothing to hinder Him from completing His Mission.

At one point in His early Galilean ministry, Jesus and His disciples left Capernaum by the Sea of Galilee, where He had healed the Centurion’s servant, and then they headed up into the hill country. They passed by Magdala and Tiberias and were fast approaching Nain, about five miles south east of Nazareth, when they came across a funeral procession coming out of the city. Their paths were about to cross.

According to the Traditions of the Elders, when one met a funeral procession one must join it out of respect for the dead. Failure to do so would have been a serious breech of cultural etiquette and an insult revealing disrespect to the family of the dead. With this in mind, Jesus considers the approach of the funeral procession. Crossing paths with it means that He must set aside His immediate plans to observe the expectations of custom.

Just as life is a series of choices for all of us, it was a series of choices for Jesus. The choice which He was forced to consider at this juncture of life, at this junction in the road was, "Which way to turn?" Will Jesus continue into Nain and offend the customs? Will Jesus advance His ministry at the cost of insulting all? Or will Jesus be turned aside to follow the Traditions of the Elders and do what is right for this situation in the eyes of the whole culture? "Which way to turn?"

Jesus did something marvelous. Jesus did something transcendent. This is the mark of the Divine working in the world, that it transforms the people and situations it touches. A widow, whose only son is being buried, is the object of Jesus’ transforming compassion, as he says, "Weep not". And the situation is transformed as Jesus touches the bier and he says, "Young man, I say unto thee, Arise."

So, Jesus’ ministry goes on. People have been transformed. The situation has been transcended. And the Kingdom of God is preached in every city. Jesus bids us do likewise.

Just as the people of Sweetwater need different Christian experiences, the various Christian Churches offer different expressions of the same faith. St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church offers a quiet, respectful hour dedicated to God every Sunday Morning at 11:00 AM, preceded by a thought-provoking Bible Class at 9:45, where we discuss intriguing passages from the Bible. Drop by some time. See us on the Internet and experience our online chapel at www.ststephens.net.

Please make plans to attend your church-of-choice this coming Sunday.

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