From the Pastor’s desk...
The fifth Wednesday in Lent, “I am the resurrection and the life. Those who believe in me even though they die will live and everyone who believes in me will never die.” Jesus in John 11:25
Dear friends in Christ,
I will miss gathering with you to pray at noon and this evening for soup supper, confirmation, Bible study and worship. Going to our Father’s house for worship on a Wednesday noon or evening or a Sunday morning, an event once considered another part of or occurrence in a busy life. Now in its absence, like the kiss or hug of a loved one or seeing the face of a friend takes on greater importance. The reading for tonight and this weekend is John 11:1-54 in which Jesus raises his friend Lazarus from death.
Jesus and the disciples were often guests at the home of Mary, Martha and their brother Lazarus in the village of Bethany just miles from Jerusalem. Mary will anoint Jesus’ feet with expensive ointment. Upon hearing the news of his friend’s illness, Jesus and the disciples begin their journey to be with them. Sadly the one who Jesus loves has fallen asleep. There is no light in him. Lazarus has died. In a warm climate where embalming is not practiced, the deceased body was anointed with spices and buried on the day of death. The period of mourning that lasted 30 days followed. Martha and then Mary come out to meet Jesus. Martha affirms the traditional belief that there will be a future resurrection for her brother. She believes that Jesus is an intermediary with God but does not yet realize that Jesus, the resurrection and life, is standing right beside her. He responds, “I am the resurrection and the life. Those who believe in me even though they die will live and everyone who believes in me will never die.”
He affirms that our belief in him despite our encounter with physical death will lead to eternal life. To believe in Jesus is to ever be alive spiritually and this will never die. His words and person are ever creating life in us and the world. Martha now seeks out her sister Mary to announce that Jesus is here. Mary rises from her mourning to greet him. She expresses her deep belief in Jesus saying, “Lord, if you had been here my brother would not have died.” Jesus is over come with anger at the evil Satan has done to his friend in his death. Moved with deep emotion Jesus weeps. He commands them to move the stone that lies across the cave/graves mouth to keep animals away. The burial site is outside the village. The mourners protest saying that the smell of death now surrounds Lazarus. But Jesus insists. He offers a prayer to God expressing his will that is in harmony with the heavenly Father and his desire to bring God glory. And with a loud shout he commands Lazarus to rise from the dead and “come out.”
John tells us the dead man came out wrapped in his burial clothes- strips of linen cloth and his face wrapped in cloth. (Jesus will rise too and leave his burial clothes behind for he will never need them again! But that is for Easter!)
Jesus tells members of the startled crowd to unbind him. The miracle of raising Lazarus - the one that Jesus loved- has an amazing impact. Many of the people present that day at the raising of Lazarus believed in Jesus.
May this brief reflection cause faith in Jesus to come alive in you and me and through us the world. For Jesus is life! As we tell the story of Lazarus life enters us again. Have we allowed ourselves to become wrapped in words and negativity and events of the present that are death instead of embracing the life of faith and love surrounding Jesus? Would you take some time each day in Lent to read one of the gospels and give thanks for faith and the blessing of knowing Jesus. Let him breathe life and healing and unbind you and set you free!
In his love, P. Dave
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