By Rev Philo Kinera

Ezekiel 37:1-14, John 11:1-45

In churches (physical and virtual) all over the world, preachers are hauling Lazarus out of his well-worn tomb. So, let me deconstructed what some believe is a miracle, so that the story could be of some use to us as we journey through Lent in the 21st century.

Lazarus has been lying in his tomb for four days; he is really dead. This isn’t really about literal resurrection because it is not about literal death, we all know what happens to a body after four days in the heat.

  • It smells, it stinks, it would be unbearable,
  • but when Lazarus comes out from the tomb,
  • after four hot days,
  • nobody in the story mentions the stink!

So, the question is what can we take with us from the text today.

Is it about Eternal Life?

Perhaps. Eternal life for me is not afterlife. Eternal life is about life in Christ. In the Jewish tradition, there was no afterlife. Eternal life is about a quality of life now. Life in Christ. Life in the process, if you will. Life free from being bound up in fear, free from whatever it is that binds us. Nothing, not even death, can separate us from life that is bound up in God, or Christ.

What are the “strips of cloth” that bind us, the addictions and fears, and the feelings of hopelessness and loss? Perhaps it’s the personification of the doctrines, the dogmas, the liturgies, the scriptures and the stories that have kept the churches dead and laying rotting?

Is the reign of God our focus, or have our notions of the after-life and dogmas got us so tied up in knots that we are no earthly good?

Our own tombs of despair

Perhaps grief, loss, anxiety, financial troubles, hatred, resentment, or a lack of faith has put us in our own tomb of despair. A long time ago, in a far-off land, Jesus stood outside that tomb
and called out, “Lazarus, come out!” And God is still speaking to us today, calling us out from our tombs of despair, denial, and death, to new life, right now, right here.

What are those tombs for us as a faith community? In what ways do we participate in what God is doing, today, in our midst, when God brings new life in the face of death?

What lessons might we be learning in our present situation – this pandemic shared so widely across nations and even continents, let alone across families, neighbourhoods and communities? Many people are (necessarily) closed up in their homes, understandably anxious and afraid. What words of freedom might ease their spirits? How do we help to “unbind” one another from anxiety and dread.

Perhaps there are some in our midst, standing around and watching, formulating their judgments and deciding what they’ll believe and how much they’ll believe it, or maybe they’re moving to the centre of what’s happening, pulling back the “stuff” of death, the things that surround death, and releasing the new life that God has granted, the new life that lies just beneath the surface of what appears bleak and beyond hope.

There are places and times, when our religious imagination fails us, stops us, refuses to move us to places of new life and possibility. Often, the world around us tells us about “real life” — and claims that it clashes with the gospel vision of being truly alive. What do we think we need to do in order to “achieve” or “accomplish” new life, as if it were our doing, and not

“Jesus began to weep.” More often than not, we fail to experience Jesus’ humanity. These words strongly suggest that he knew anger, and grief, and deep pain, just as we do. He was moved to compassion and sadness. Can we imagine the tears of Jesus, and do they transform our understanding of who he is?

What is God speaking to us today, in the tears of Jesus?

I have a song for you:

Jesus bids us shine with a clear pure light.
Like a little candle burning in the night.
In this day of lockdown we must shine,
you in your own bubble and I in mine.

God Bless you and Keep you safe.


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