Sermon. 3.29.20. Lent 5. Lazarus. John 11: 1-45
Another Holy Encounter with Jesus that defies all pain and suffering and death and calls Lazarus to rise and come out of the dead tomb.
There are two things I want to emphasize about this text:
The first is the notion that Lazarus was given a 2nd chance. Second chances usually mean that something wasn’t right the first go-around. So we’re given a second chance. But what if Jesus , this death-defying Son of God, in the midst of grief and despair, raised Lazarus so that he might testify from the depths of the grave? To give witness to this God of grace who gives new life?
In the midst of a pandemic that threatens our very existence, sending us in to a tailspin of fear and hopelessness, we might feel like we are in the depths of the grave. So much is changing in our world, moment by moment. While most of us, I pray, are safe in our homes, the world around us groans and mourns in pain:
If you would only have been here Jesus – If you would just take care of this suffering, loss, and pain we are currently experiencing…we know that you can…
But it is precisely here, that Jesus comes to us and says, “Wait! This isn’t it…. There’s more to life…and death.. than this! Death and loss do not have the last say… Through the waters of our baptism, we die daily to our sin and are raised to new life! We are given a second chance – a new hope with which to testify to God’s unfailing love and mercy.
So, can we rise above the depths of the grave to see the life-giving work of God in our lives and in our world? Can we let the waters of our baptism remind us that through death and dying, comes new life?
Maybe it’s like pressing a RESET button. Many have viewed this time we are experiencing as hitting the PAUSE button. I invite you, if you haven’t thought so already, to consider this time as a reset. The council met last week, and we talked about roses and thorns in our new normal. While is the midst of pain and suffering expressed, there was this over-arching theme that there was more – more quiet, more time with family, more time to sleep, more time to pursue other interests, more time to reconnect with friends and family both present and on the airwaves, more time to help the neighbor across the street. More time to hear God. Perhaps this can be a reset time for you, for your family, for our neighborhoods, for our communities and for the world. A second chance, if you will, to reset our lives where less gives more.
Now, ironically speaking because of the situation we find ourselves in, I don’t believe we can do that alone – the second thing I want to point out about today’s gospel.
When Jesus raises Lazarus and he comes out of the tomb, did you notice that he is bound? And instead of Jesus unbinding him, Jesus says to the community – You unbind him. Our ability to live free to be who we are created to be, depends on the bod of Christ. We need each other.
In our current state of staying – in- place, we all might be sensing this is a very real way. While I’m sure there are those families with kids who are experiencing life together 24/7 and are beginning to be a little stir crazy – I think particularly of those who are living alone with no human touch – whether you’re young and vibrant, or well-seasoned. We all need touch. As the body of Christ, we are not complete until we are all together. So let us find new ways to be together.
My prayer for all of us in this time of RESET, is to embrace it – the good, bad and the ugly.
Look for new ways to see this death-defying God at work in this world in the midst of this pandemic as we are all experience death in one way or another.
Look for ways to get creative in reaching out to each other, sharing God’s love with a phone call, a card, a digital happy hour or coffee time with friends or your pastor!
May we together, unbind each other from our own confines of fear and despair, and look to the promise of the resurrection.
Be Well. Be Safe. Be Hope. prL