Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me will live, even though they die. Everyone who lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?” – John 11:25-26
Having said this, Jesus shouted with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!” The dead man came out, his feet bound and his hands tied, and his face covered with a cloth. Jesus said to them, “Untie him and let him go.” – John 11:43-44
Sunday morning Rebekah and I hopped into my little VW and zoom-zoomed over to University Presbyterian again. Yes, I know it’s a long way to Chapel Hill, but last week felt so right, and if there is one thing we need to do during this immediate post-retirement phase it is to be excited about going to worship. Besides, we’ve driven farther for good barbecue, so there you go.
Short story: we are glad that we did. The McLaughlins serve as co-pastors and this week Meg was preaching, so it was good to discover she is every bit as effective as Jarrett.
Once again, Rebekah and I felt very much at home.
October 31 was also “Reformation Sunday” and the organist, Joey Fala, offered a wonderful interpretation of Bach’s improvisations on A Mighty Fortress is our God as his postlude. Rebekah and I were transported – in spirit – back to Leipzig, where we had enjoyed the thunderous tones of Bach’s inventions on the great organs at both St. Thomas and St. Nicholas.
God’s message through Meg:
Always, God speaks to me most clearly through the scriptures, and Meg’s message around the story of Jesus raising Lazarus (John 11) gave me ample opportunity to be fed.
I often like to make the point (see Reaching Toward Easter, Upper Room Books, 2011) that, in being brought back to life, all Lazarus got was his old life back; whereas what Jesus offers in his resurrection is “a new creation”, something brand new that reimagines us, that moves us forward, and that is – ultimately – eternal.
Meg’s message got me thinking about the fact that what Jesus does so much of the time is to speak new life into being. When Jesus leaned into the tomb and called to the dead man: “Lazarus, come out!” the Master was speaking life into a dark place.
This is what Jesus intends to do constantly, speaking life into darkness and inviting all of us into what is possible. More even than the possible, Jesus invites us into what is imperative.
Evidence of Life:
Where the words of Jesus are heard, then, new life – both resurrected and newly created – is the natural result. Our opportunity is to be like Lazarus inasmuch as people can’t help but notice the fact that we’re not dead anymore!
Lazarus pops up again (sorry, couldn’t resist!) when Jesus attends a dinner party just before heading into Jerusalem for the Triumphal entry. “Martha served, and Lazarus was among those who joined him at the table” (John 12:1-11).
I like to think of the place-cards at the table. “Lazarus,” one would read, “until recently, dead.” People tend to notice something like that. John’s gospel account says that some people came just to see.
What if the new life we have in Jesus, the life that offers so much more than merely coming out of the grave and getting the old one back, what if this new life is so obvious people cannot help but notice?
So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new!2 Corinthians 5:17
Getting his old life back was disruptive, the fact of it put Lazarus in danger. Living into our new lives in Christ could certainly cause some ripples too.
Go to church more, friends, if nothing else maybe the preacher will cause you to think!
Peace, and the kind of love that will not let us go – DEREK