1st Scripture Reading: Ezekial 37:1-14 & Psalm 130
“Out of the depths I cry to you, O Lord.” Sometimes our grief is too great to bear, our pain too deep to share. Sometimes as friends and family, as close as wallpaper, we still cannot comfort or relieve the suffering.
Out of the shadows of destruction, the people of Israel have lost hope. It feels like there is nothing left but death and dry bones. Objectively we know that such times will come – are part of life on this planet. But that is cold comfort. Does it help to hear: “this too shall pass” or “time heals all wounds”? Not really. In the darkest hours of our lives the only thing that really helps is the compassionate accompaniment of a friend.
And so we cry out in pain, or grief, or fear: “Out of the depths I cry to you, O Lord.” And we have a friend, we Christians, a friend in Jesus. Many of us could testify to the times we have cried out to Jesus and found comfort and relief in our darkest hours.
God promises in Ezekial that the dry bones of the people of Israel shall be resurrected. There is a future. God, the giver of all life has not given up on the people of God. There will be new life, for God is with them, as God is with us, and the future is not so dark, for we are not alone.
Hymn #90 MV “Don’t be afraid”
2nd Scripture Reading: Romans 8: 9-11 & John 11:1-45
Jesus said, “Unbind him and let him go.” We are prisoners here, in the flesh of our earthly bodies. We are prisoners so long as we are blind and asleep to life in the Spirit.
In the reading from Romans we hear Paul exhorting these new Christians to remember that the Spirit of God that raised Jesus from the dead is the same Spirit that breathed life into them.
The same God who put flesh on the dry bones of the Israelites, giving them new life and new hope, is the God who by the Spirit breathed new life into Lazarus in answer to the prayers of Jesus.
The question for me is why did Jesus wait four days – why wait till death was certainly irrefutable – before he came to help Lazarus? Who is this Jesus that he can heal rotten flesh, and free Lazarus from the tomb? I believe that Jesus’ whole life on earth was a teaching tool – his incarnation as a human being meant to teach us how to move into the life of the Spirit – to “free the captives” if you will. So in this instance he challenged one of our most deep-seated beliefs – that death is the enemy, death always wins out, and death is final – and we as humans can never escape the mortality of the flesh.
But we can! We must certainly give up the body when our time is up here on earth. But by raising Lazarus from the dead – really dead – Jesus proves to us that death is a paper tiger. Life in the Spirit, life as part of the Body of Christ, is so much richer and stronger than life as an unconscious human. And life with Christ, sharing in the love of Christ which is also the love of God, goes beyond the grave.
As we learn to live in the Way of Jesus, we live more and more the life of the Spirit. We are transformed. As Spirit washes over us time and time again, we are washed clean, and our spiritual connection is strengthened.
The love of God is the creative power of the universe. As we learn to know this, and to glorify and then to embody this love, then to that extent we become branches of the true vine, immersed in the river of Love that flows by the throne of God. On that plane, in that place that Jesus has gone before to prepare for us, there is no death and no physical body. Our experience here on earth has prepared us to “sing with the angels” or to join our voices in joy and exultation to the song of all Creation. As pure consciousness we will return to the God who gave us the great gift of human experience. Right here, right now, we are called to learn the great lessons of love that Jesus came to teach us. Death has no sting, no final victory. The Beatles had it right: “all there is is love!”
Hymn # 87 MV “Water Flowing from the Mountains”