First Sunday of Lent

Good morning all! I hope you all changed your clocks! Sundays are a bit different.  I will be posting part of what we are using in church this morning for our scripture and our devotional will be a bit shorter…perhaps a blessing or poem or a tidbit…mainly because I don’t want to give away too much if you are coming to church. 😉

Today’s scripture: John 11: 17-44

When Jesus arrived, he found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb four days.  Now Bethany was near Jerusalem, some two miles away, and many of the Jews had come to Martha and Mary to console them about their brother. When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went and met him, while Mary stayed at home.  Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.  But even now I know that God will give you whatever you ask of him.” Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.”  Martha said to him, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.” Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life.Those who believe in me, even though they die, will live,  and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?”  She said to him, “Yes, Lord, I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, the one coming into the world.”

When she had said this, she went back and called her sister Mary, and told her privately, “The Teacher is here and is calling for you.” And when she heard it, she got up quickly and went to him.Now Jesus had not yet come to the village, but was still at the place where Martha had met him. The Jews who were with her in the house, consoling her, saw Mary get up quickly and go out. They followed her because they thought that she was going to the tomb to weep there.

 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.”  When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who came with her also weeping, he was greatly disturbed in spirit and deeply moved.  He said, “Where have you laid him?” They said to him, “Lord, come and see.”  Jesus began to weep.  So the Jews said, “See how he loved him!”  But some of them said, “Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man have kept this man from dying?”

Then Jesus, again greatly disturbed, came to the tomb. It was a cave, and a stone was lying against it.  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.” Jesus said to her, “Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?” So they took away the stone. And Jesus looked upward and said, “Father, I thank you for having heard me.  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.” When he had said this, he cried with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!” 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.”

 

 

What a way to begin Lent, eh?  I have never preached Lazarus on the first Sunday of Lent.  It is intriguing to me that we begin our Sunday journey with renewal, restoration, and life in the midst of death.  There are a few points that strike me the most (I won’t flesh out too much here)….

 

First of all, Jesus wept.  Jesus (God on earth) weeps. Jesus is fully human and grieves with us.  When we are at our lowest, we are not alone.  God knows how we feel.  Jesus loved these humans and wept when there was pain.

 

Secondly, we have a part in all of this.  Jesus calls Lazarus out and we are called to unbind him.  We have a part in all of this craziness.  It is a participatory act to give and receive new life, restoration, wholeness.  We need each other.

 

And finally, Jesus asks Martha in the middle of all of this if she believes in new life. It would have been super easy for her to say yes after the fact but to believe in new life, she must also mourn through death.  There must be death pre new life.

 

hmmm….so I will leave you with poetry this morning…

 

he Raising of Lazarus
Alfred, Lord Tennyson (1809–1892)
WHEN Lazarus left his charnel-cave,
  And home to Mary’s house return’d,
  Was this demanded—if he yearn’d
To hear her weeping by his grave?
“Where wert thou, brother, those four days?”         5
  There lives no record of reply,
  Which telling what it is to die
Had surely added praise to praise.
From every house the neighbours met,
  The streets were fill’d with joyful sound,         10
  A solemn gladness even crown’d
The purple brows of Olivet.
Behold a man raised up by Christ!
  The rest remaineth unreveal’d;
  He told it not; or something seal’d         15
The lips of that Evangelist.

Peace,
Court

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