This was Sunday’s sermon on the raising of Lazarus and the amazing new life Christ gives us right here, right now. The text was John 11:1-45.
What does it mean to be raised from the dead?
And what does it mean to be Holy Spirit led?
What does it mean to be truly, abundantly alive?
And what does it mean in Christ to thrive?
John’s Gospel gives us a wonderful story,
About death, resurrection and God’s glory.
It all started with one of Jesus’ closest friends,
Who had an illness that was proving tough to mend.
Lazarus’ health was going quickly downhill,
And his sisters, deeply worried that he was so ill,
Sent messengers to Jesus in whom they believed,
But from his place that Rabbi chose not to leave.
In that time in which Jesus waited and stayed,
Dear Lazarus died and in a rock tomb was laid.
The sisters cried and the community mourned,
And when Jesus arrived, they all felt torn.
“If you had been here, he would not have died.”
Martha choked out to Jesus as she cried.
“And still I believe that whatever you ask,
for God it will not be too great a task.”
Seeing the pain of all who’d come together to grieve,
And filled with sorrow, that Death should cleave,
The gift of life from his own beloved friend,
Jesus went to the tomb – what should’ve been the end.
Then, loudly he shouted, “Lazarus, come out!”
Out he came – he was alive, without a doubt!
But it wasn’t enough to leave him alive and wrapped,
Jesus asked others to unbind him – he wouldn’t be trapped.
He was miraculously free to go about his life,
But that meant that once again he entered the strife,
Of living in a world of pain, hurt and weariness –
A world sometimes filled with loneliness and dreariness.
Just as Jesus stood weeping at his friend’s tomb,
So we will soon stand in the dreary gloom
Of that Friday and Saturday that went down in history
Holy and terrible days shrouded in a veil of mystery.
But we know that this is never the end of the story;
At the end of those days is brilliant Easter glory,
The gracious light of the resurrection dawn,
The victory of Sin and Death forever gone!
Jesus doesn’t just promise resurrection down the road,
But also new life now that from his heart freely flows.
How often though, do we miss this invitation,
While struggling with life’s trials and tribulations?
We experience the sting of our own mistakes,
Feel the weight of our sins and the errors we make.
And how often do we hard-heartedly refuse to forgive,
Not realizing that we’re making it harder to live?
We suffer with terrible illnesses and situations,
We bear witness to wars among the nations.
We hear horrific tales of woe on the news,
And all of these stories have us singin’ the blues.
But against all of this Jesus offers a new way to live,
A way of hope, peace and joy that he alone can give.
He doesn’t promise we’ll avoid hardship as we travel,
Instead he’ll walk with us even when things unravel.
Being alive means stepping out of the cave,
It means shedding the clothes you wore in the grave,
Putting on the brilliant outfit of your baptism,
Embracing life as God’s child in Christ arisen.
It means listening deeply and trying hard to hear,
The calling of God whispered in your ear.
Seeking to use the gifts you’ve been given,
To make this world a place for kingdom livin’.
It means walking though life with a spirit of gratitude,
And cultivating a prayerful servant-leader attitude.
It means being vulnerable and loving others,
And getting hurt for doing so, against our druthers!
It means stepping out into the great unknown,
Going in faith, even shaking, outside our comfort zone,
Maybe meeting people we think are different from us,
Only to then ask – why were we making such a fuss?
It’s finding the magic and miracle in each human life,
Finding the beautiful and divine in a world simply rife
With all too much tough stuff, worry, fear and stress –
A world where God chose to be present nonetheless.
To each of us Jesus calls, as he did to poor Lazarus,
“Be free! Come out! Get out of your well-worn ruts!
Step into the sunlight and embrace the transformation
I’m working now in you – it’s a celebration!
Look at the things I’m doing around you all the time,
They range from the subtle to the outright sublime,
Still, they occur around the world every second –
Do you see them? Do you hear how they beckon?
I want you to take notice of the Spirit at work –
When you hear it, your ears upward should perk!
Whether it’s a story of reconciliation or hope,
Don’t keep it to yourself – no way, uh-uh, nope!
Share it with those you encounter along your way,
Look for the new life I’m bringing about here, today.
Healing and resurrection happen in great and small things,
Incredible schools in Rwanda – a flower blooming in spring.
I have set you free to be creative, bold and to serve,
So do not be afraid and gather up your nerve!
What dreams are you dreaming about this place?
How will you respond to my abundant grace?
Will you help one another through life’s struggle?
Will you prioritize knowing me as you schedule-juggle?
Will you give money to feed the poor and share my gospel?
Will you walk in faith and trust, doing the impossible?
You’re full of my Spirit and I’ve made you alive,
I’ve given you life and I want you to thrive,
So don’t stay locked away, trapped in your tomb,
But come out and change the world – BOOM!”
© 2014. Annabelle Peake Markey. All rights reserved.