Questions about miracles; scripture for June 9

Luke 7:11–17
Soon afterwards he went to a town called Nain, and his disciples and a large crowd went with him. As he approached the gate of the town, a man who had died was being carried out. He was his mother’s only son, and she was a widow; and with her was a large crowd from the town. When the Lord saw her, he had compassion for her and said to her, “Do not weep.” Then he came forward and touched the bier, and the bearers stood still. And he said, “Young man, I say to you, rise!” The dead man sat up and began to speak, and Jesus gave him to his mother. Fear seized all of them; and they glorified God, saying, “A great prophet has risen among us!” and “God has looked favorably on his people!” This word about him spread throughout Judea and all the surrounding country.
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Miracles are treated with some significant skepticism in our tradition of Christianity. Are miracles stories meaningful to you?

From the parting of the Red Sea to the resurrection of Jesus, what stories inform your faith?

The apostle Paul never refers to the miracles Jesus performed—only to his resurrection but none other. Do you think these stories of miracles are important to us today?

Jeffrey Sartain
Executive Ministersartain_jeffrey-ml-forweb

About PlymouthSpirit

Plymouth Congregational Church is a progressive faith community grounded in the Christian tradition. We are spiritual, loving, relevant and transforming.
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One Response to Questions about miracles; scripture for June 9

  1. Hazel Lutz says:

    Yep! My knee-jerk response to miracle stories is to discount them. The anthropologist in me knows that miracles were an important aspect of religious life in ancient times. The ability to perform miracles validated an individual’s right to religious leadership, validated the spiritual and physical powers inherent in a particular place, eg. mountain, temple, or well. A society that depended largely on word of mouth for the dispsal of news was accustomed to hearing miracle stories. A society with limited medical knowledge could mistake the death of an individual.

    Then my second reaction to miracle stories is to remember that modern society lacks some of the spiritual knowledge common to the ancients. And there are certainly lots of documented (there’s that scientific perspective again) cases of extra-sensory experiences/knowledge in contemporary experience. Those are the kind of words we use today to talk abut miracles—ESP. Do the words change the substance of the events? I think not. But those words do separate the power of the events from the reach of religion, submitting them only to the authority of scientific research, taking them out of the realm of our own individual spiritual lives.

    The one miracle story that resonates with me is the feeding of the listeners to Jesus’ sermons with the loaves and fishes. What I like about the story is that every inndividual got to participate in that miracle—taking what they each needed, and no more, and perhaps sharing out what they themselves had brought to the event. It is the power of the concept of “each taking only what we need as individuals” that attracts me: it brings my spirit down close to the ground, removing it from the world of stressful striving for more and more. AND it also connects each individual to the whole body of people present at the event. It is the tieing in of individuals to the whole that also attracts me. AND thirdly, it is the fact that the individuals are participating in the miracle. The miracle is not something being done to them, or being watched by them. They are each at the center of the miracle. They are part of the substance of the miracle.

    Now my anthropologist self kicks in again and notices that the structural model for religion in the small and larger governing structures in ancient times was itself a form of government—God The Ruler, The King, The Lord and Master. Today our ideal governments are democracies, or socialist governments, that attempt to organize themselves around meeting the needs of the individuals in society. The conspicuous consumption of the Monarch is not the goal, as it was in the past. (I am reporting a very broad brush description of historical change in our ideal governing models, or changes in our rhetoric about the ideal government.) As such, it makes sense that our religious life should also today focus on the individual’s religious experience, and on how we individuals connect to each other into a societal whole. So the important religious question becomes not who performed the miracle, but what miracles have we each experienced ourselves.

    My miracles include: 1. being able to rebuild a wonderfully happy life, as a single person, after leaving an unfulfilling marraige of 12 years, 2. Discovering a personal sexuality that was not bound up with messages of shame, 3. finding a new and fulfilling happy marriage with Tom Anderson, 4. Discovering that I could feel myself wholly accepted and a member of various social groups after a childhood of constantly moving and being the outsider. 5. Learning that I have valuable contributions to make in the public arena after being raised to find my value only within a domestic sphere, 6 Discovering that within the complex and varied forms of parenting I received as a child there was a constant loving care for me underneath all the limitations I often railed against (Isn’t the wisdom of age a wonderful miracle in itself!).

    Each of these miracles has involved a) my own efforts and risk taking, b) engagement with other individuals, and c) the experience of grace.

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