Forward MovementJohn 11: 1-45
IN THE NAME OF THE GREAT ONE…WHO CREATED THE SUN AND THE MOON AND THE EARTH AND THE STARS…AMEN
I firmly believe that this deep story of Lazarus is a gift to us today. Wouldn’t we all right now want an experience to ‘just take all of this Coronavirus away’? However, this story is not really meant to tell us that God will whisk all our troubles away. This story…this metaphor is meant to teach us that Jesus will be with us even unto death… Let us note that as Lazarus comes from the Tomb…he is STILL bound with the clothes of death…Now let us all recall that when Mary went to the tomb to look for Jesus…He was gone but the CLOTHES OF DEATH were still there. Jesus is not trapped by human bindings…yet Lazarus and we too are trapped with bindings.
Face it, even in the best of times, we humans are still entrapped by Earthly bindings…we still have fear, we still get stuck in arguments …old and new. We still lose hope, we still hate others, we still forget to be grateful and we still forget to remember that all we have is because of Christ…oh we may have the best intentions but being human means we will always have to fight the bindings that hold us back from true life.
Here we are today…with imminent reasons for fear and angst: being forced to isolate, some losing jobs, others not being able to see loved ones, others afraid that things will never get back to ‘normal’, still so many others who cannot get the services they so desperately need…and there are those who blame this situation on others rather than the virus which is causing all of this. So…what is it that Lazarus really offers us today?
Im sharing with you some things I gleaned from this reading:
HOPE: hope comes in this reading from Martha’s firm belief in Jesus, despite Lazarus dying. She states to Jesus: vs 22: ‘Even now I know that God will give you whatever you ask of God.’ Martha knows her brother is dead , yet her hope is alive from what she knows already about Jesus. She feels that even now…Jesus can still do ‘something’.
FAITH: Martha showed faith in Jesus despite her brother being dead…even before her conversation with him, both she and Mary had faith…. In vs:3 they called for JESUS when their brother was ill. They had seen and heard what He had done for others and knew that Jesus cared deeply for Lazarus. Why, even in their comment of great loss and frustration, they had faith in Jesus: vs’s 21 and 32: “Lord if you had been here , my brother would not have died”. Yes, even in this comment that could be taken as a rebuke from them to him…they were admitting their faith in Him.
JESUS IS NOT AFRAID OF STENCH…Jesus will go to the worst places to help us all…He is not stopped by the stench of fear, anger, pride, selfishness. He will not be stopped by world panic, hopelessness in times of great trouble. For Martha and Mary…Lazarus’ death was serious…just as our personal problems are serious for us. No, Jesus is not afraid, put off by anything this world can put up to stop us from being close to God. Just as He was there to help Mary and Martha…He IS WITH US NOW to help all of us on this journey that we all have been forced to embark on.
Today, we are, many of us, afraid, consumed with loss…loss of freedom, loss of contact, loss of physical touch, loss of jobs, loss of a way of life that we were comfortable with and we have to somehow cope with all this fear, grief, anger and the not knowing how long this way of life will last. It, does at first seem too daunting, overwhelming…
Unless, unless we turn our thoughts around and notice HWAT HAS NOT BEEN TAKEN AWAY FROM US hope, faith, trust… the ability to profess our faith, the opportunities to declare our faith…these gifts from God can never be taken away from us…unless WE allow them to be taken away. Let us turn to each other and ask: How can we, like the community who removed Lazarus’ bindings, remove the bindings of each other?
We can be the hope, faith and trust for each other…we can call each other often, we can send cards with notes of care, we can pray daily for each other, we can simply step outside and be in the glorious world God created for us. We can meet in communities like this: Zooming together worshipping just like we did in our building…only now we are beyond the building…we are learning in this crisis…to move to another plane of action in our belief…no we don’t know when this crisis will end…we don’t know what our new ‘normal’ will be…but…in keeping our hope, faith and trust alive and acting on them…we can be certain God is with us on this journey as well…in ways that we might not expect…I never thought I would be a ‘Zoomer’…yet here I am today… doing something that I really thought was beyond me so that I can be with my community in shared worship.
We can use this opportunity as a ‘reset’ of what we value in life and how we practice/ live into our belief…we can internalize this experience as a time to decide what a ‘new’ normal might look like in our lives. What will our priorities be when tis crisis is past us? We just may become more deeply the persons that God envisions us to be…caring more about each other, wondering in awe of how God loves us so deeply.
I end with this poem…I thank Laurie Larsen for putting it out to the public for all of us to see….