In the midst of a “stay at shelter” order, what has moved you this week?
New Testament Readings
32 When Mary came where Jesus was and saw him, she knelt at his feet and said to him, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.”33 When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who came with her also weeping, he was greatly disturbed in spirit and deeply moved. 34 He said, “Where have you laid him?” They said to him, “Lord, come and see.” 35 Jesus began to weep.36 So the Jews said, “See how he loved him!” 37 But some of them said, “Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man have kept this man from dying?”
38 Then Jesus, again greatly disturbed, came to the tomb. It was a cave, and a stone was lying against it. 39 Jesus said, “Take away the stone.” Martha, the sister of the dead man, said to him, “Lord, already there is a stench because he has been dead four days.” 40 Jesus said to her, “Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?” 41 So they took away the stone. And Jesus looked upward and said, “Father, I thank you for having heard me. 42 I knew that you always hear me, but I have said this for the sake of the crowd standing here, so that they may believe that you sent me.” 43 When he had said this, he cried with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!” 44 The dead man came out, his hands and feet bound with strips of cloth, and his face wrapped in a cloth. Jesus said to them, “Unbind him, and let him go.”
This has been another interesting week, hasn’t it? There are things that I’ve read that have really moved me deeply. Some things have been hard…obviously the pandemic, it’s affect on all of us, the harsh reality that this is going to be our new “normal” for a while. Wars are still happening, our health care systems being overwhelmed, folks thinking only of themselves and not working towards the common good.
Yet, I’ve also been moved by the compassion of good friends. Kind words after a virtual meeting…a gathering of community leaders and church folks online and in our city that are staying connected. Running, dinners at home, our “English daughter” and other family members being together…our church’s partnering with another neighborhood church and the local school district to provide food for families in Finneytown while on spring break during this pandemic.
And, other things such as Yoga online this past week at home have been great source of release and movement. It’s interesting to see how I am moved by so many things, yet hold so much in tension. The interweaving of divine, other, and self awareness, along with the stretching and different postures have helped me to see where I hold my tension in my body. My good friend, Marylin Seilkop and I talked about this very thing this past week. I oftentimes feel things deeply, in the depths of my body, but I don’t know how to always release it.
What have you felt or experienced this past week in your body?
Our gospel lesson this morning talks about how Jesus is moved, deeply. He is on his way to visit Mary and Martha and their family. He’s close to these folks. On the way, Mary comes to him. Mary is the one who paid close attention to Jesus’ words, her sister was the one who chastised her for not doing work. Yet, she knew there was something about Jesus that moved her towards deep friendship, deep relationship with Jesus.
So, Mary comes out to meet Jesus and tells him that her brother Lazarus has died. At first she tells him that if he had come earlier, he could have healed Lazarus, she knew that Jesus had power. Yet, she had accepted the reality of death, she had closed off possibilities.
Jesus sees her weeping and the other folks weeping. He’s deeply moved. The Greek phrases in this passage don’t quite give an accurate picture of what Jesus was feeling. He was moved, but he was also frustrated, even angry according to many commentators. But, what was he angry about?
I believe he was angry at a world where death reigned, where there was no hope, where folks were not willing to believe in the deeper possibilities, that folks simply didn’t get it but went about their lives without imaginative hope.
Yes, Jesus is also aching for his friend Lazarus and for Mary and her family. Jesus even weeps himself. He is affected by this loss personally, they shared life together, he was moved by the love that was present with these friends. The language used in this passage denotes that Jesus was so moved physically, that it affected him deeply, in the depths of his very body, his very being. Instead of holding it in, Jesus lets it out. He weeps, he feels, he empathizes, but then he moves into action.
People around him remark on his emotion and how he loved Lazarus, but they don’t see the depth of his love and desire for folks to see that where this is no hope, where folks have accepted an outcome, that God may have different ideas, different possibilities.
So, he tells those standing around to take away the stone. Mary protests, saying that this body will stink! Jesus reminds her that if she believes, then she will experience God’s glory. Jesus is asking her, did you listen to me? Did you not see all of the things I have done? Did you not love me as I have loved you? My love is a love of possibility.
They rolled away the stone, Jesus looks to God…this prayer reminds those of us reading that Jesus and the Father, the creator of life, are one. They are in deep community, deep relationship, they deeply hear each other…and that Jesus has been sent out of that relationship.
Then Jesus cries out in a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!” Come out of the grave, rise up, come out of the darkness into the light of day, MOVE, show yourself! Don’t wallow in the grave, but get up!
Lazarus, the dead guy, comes out of the grave. He’s bound still by the cloths, he can’t see, one cloth covers his eyes. He may have stunk a bit as well, but Jesus says there is a new reality, a new possibility, take off his grave clothes and let him go!
Friends, Jesus not only heals, he resurrects. This man is dead and decaying, yet, with words from Jesus mouth of hope and life, he is brought back to life, and not just any life, but life filled with possibility and imagination.
We may be hearing this story and thinking, well, I’ve been to funerals and I haven’t seen anything like this before. That’s probably true, but the point of this story is that where we see and experience death, God sees possibility and with God, all things are possible. We may be dead on the inside, but Jesus is calling us to life and wants those around us to loosen the grave clothes and to have release!
So often, we feel like we want to bind others and oursleves, we want to limit possibilities or we fail to see that the impossible can happen. We are quick to say this can’t happen in my life, in others lives, or in our lives together. Or, we, like Mary, limit ourselves by not going far enough in what could happen. We do not see the possibility of new life. Yet, God is moving, and God is deeply moved with our pain and wants us to believe that with God, anything is possible.
Friends, this is true in our lives and in our church. We may think we’re almost dead, that we need to do or be something else before we die, yet God is saying that there are deeper possibilities at work. God is saying to us death is not the final answer. God is calling us out of the grave, to be loosened of whatever binds us, to believe that we can have a new story written that gives life to us and to those around us.
This is a story of resurrection and as the body of Christ, as the church, we bear witness to this new life, this new story, by remembering what Jesus has done for us, and to believe and be moved.
Friends, here the good news, no matter what this pandemic brings us, we have possibilities to explore, and we have the promise that new life comes after death, disruption, lostness…wherever we find ourselves, have faith that love is here…and love leads to life!