Arise and Follow him—Third Sunday of Luke

In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, One God, Amen.

The world is heading towards death.  Politics and science cannot prevent what will come to each one of us.  And while we try to keep death away from us—something for hospitals and hospices—as we get older we recognise our own mortality: I will die.

And the Lord comes and has compassion even on me.  He says to me, dear brothers and sisters, and he says to you, “I say to you, arise.”  At his word the Word of God brings us to new life, renewed life: we are born again from above.  This word he gave to the son of the Widow of Nain he gives to us whenever we are tempted by death, “I say to you, arise.”  When we fall in sin, “I say to you, arise.”  When we are filled with anger, annoyance or frustration, “I say to you, arise.”  When we feel all we can do is accept our seemingly inevitable mortality and death, “I say to you, arise.”

Christ has promised, to you and to me, life—abundant life, eternal life, life with God.  He encourages us to rise with him.  He does not expect that we never fall but that, whenever we do, we rise again and follow him.

Arise and follow him throughout Galilee as he teaches the people, as he heals the sick and raises the dead.
Arise and follow him as he ascends Tabor and is transfigured before us and reveals to us his light.
Arise and follow him as he triumphantly enters Jerusalem.
Arise and follow him as he ascends the Cross.
Arise and follow him as he enters the tomb.
Arise and follow him as he descends even to the depths of Hades.
Arise and follow him as he despoils Death’s dominion.
Arise and follow him as he rises from the dead.
Arise and follow him as he brings new life through his Resurrection.
Arise and follow him as he ascends to the right hand of the Father.
Arise and follow him as he appears again in Judgment.

My dear brothers and sisters in Christ, the Lord is calling each one of us to live up to the promises we have been given.  Each day, each moment, he says to us, “I say to you, arise.”  Because he loves us and wants us here and now to experience life.  Not life which will end with inevitable death as our world sees it, but an overflowing of life, a fulfilled—that is, filled full—life.  And if we follow him, to Golgotha as well as Tabor, to crucifixion as well as glorification, then we will arise not to death but to life and love with God.

That we may let the source of life enter our hearts as we honour Father, Son and Holy Spirit, the Holy Trinity, one in essence and undivided.  Amen.

Brethren, working together with him, we entreat you not to accept the grace of God in vain. For he says, “At the acceptable time I have listened to you, and helped you on the day of salvation.” Behold, now is the acceptable time; behold, now is the day of salvation. We put no obstacle in any one’s way, so that no fault may be found with our ministry, but as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: through great endurance, in afflictions, hardships, calamities, beatings, imprisonments, tumults, labors, watching, hunger; by purity, knowledge, forbearance, kindness, the Holy Spirit, genuine love, truthful speech, and the power of God; with the weapons of righteousness for the right hand and for the left; in honor and dishonor, in ill repute and good repute. We are treated as impostors, and yet are true; as unknown, and yet well known; as dying, and behold we live; as punished, and yet not killed; as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, and yet possessing everything.
— Second Corinthians 6:1–10

At that time, Jesus went to a city called Nain, and his disciples and a great crowd went with him. As he drew near to the gate of the city, behold, a man who had died was being carried out, the only son of his mother, and she was a widow; and a large crowd from the city was with her. And when the Lord saw her, he had compassion on her and said to her, “Do not weep.” And he came 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 he 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!
— Luke 7:11–16