Photo credit: Rueben J. Murray
We don’t like talking about death. We don’t have to like talking about it. Unfortunately, there are some times where we simply cannot avoid it.
This Sunday the Lectionary has us in the first part of John 11, the story of Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead. The other Lectionary possibilities include Ezekiel’s experience with dry bones so there really wasn’t any way to avoid the subject, no matter how much we might want to. Furthermore, I was at the funeral of Eric Greenway, one of my closest friends yesterday. I mention the funeral for a couple of reasons. It comes up in both sermons so this is your “warning” if you need such a thing. The other reason is that if I dedicated sermons to anyone other than God, these would be dedicated to Eric.
The Lazarus story is one of those parts of the Bible that we, who are familiar with it, tend to skip over the hard parts and get to the “end”; in this case, Lazarus being raised from the dead, without paying much attention to what leads up to it. This makes more sense in this story because what leads up to Lazarus coming out of that cave / tomb / whatever it was is enigmatic to say the least. As I was pondering it, I realized that when I tried to come to it with new eyes, it was virtually incomprehensible. Jesus’ behaviour is peculiar, his disciples don’t want him to go, Lazarus’ sisters talk back to Jesus (in about the same way I think most of us would), etc. The more time I spent with it the less obvious everything became and the more I realized that I really hadn’t ever thought of what was going on at all.
However, rather than dumping all of that on two congregations and you I went to what I do know is going on. Jesus is demonstrating his essential humanity in this story. It is here that we can base our theology of Christ’s identification with the whole range of human-ness. It is here that we can accept that when God is with us in grief it is not from a distance, not from a divine “theory” of grief but from the lived experience of God-made-flesh.
Knox Presbyterian Dead isn’t the last word (to download, right click and select “Save Link As . . .”)
St. Mark’s Presbyterian Dead isn’t the last word (to download, right click and select “Save Link As . . .”)