The Raising of Lazarus
5:30 Worship Reflection by Jack Richbourg
March 26, 2023
The Bible lessons for today are all about resurrection, Ezekiel’s Valley of the Dry bones, Paul’s Letter to the Romans, John’s account of the raising of Lazarus. I’m supposed to talk about resurrection then, I’m guessing.
In that case, I’ve a confession to make. I don’t really know a whole lot about bodily resurrection. Like you, I wasn’t at Bethany when Lazarus was raised. I wasn’t in the Upper Room when Jesus appeared to Thomas. I didn’t see the empty tomb with Mary, Peter, and John. I cannot speak about physical resurrection with any authority because I’ve had no firsthand experience of it, hopefully one day, but not yet.
I have, however, witnessed a spiritual resurrection in my own life. It’s happened to me. I can speak about that with some authority.
Paul wasn’t at Bethany, the Upper Room, or the Garden with Mary either, but he knew about spiritual resurrection. He writes in Romans, “If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will give life to your mortal bodies also, through his Spirit that dwells in you,”
The trouble with life is that . . . things go wrong, terribly wrong. We become, or people we love, become addicted to alcohol and drugs. Marriages dissolve. People we love die. Life threatening illnesses beset us. These things shut out the sunlight of the Spirit, and we can become blind to the Spirit of Christ that dwells within us that Paul speaks about so eloquently. I know this because it’s happened to me, and I know that it’s happened to some of you, too.
The Nicene Creed doesn’t say we believe in resurrection. No, it says we LOOK for resurrection. We look for it. It’s of the utmost importance that we look for resurrection, not only in the afterlife but right here and now. God never dies. God is eternal. The Spirit is always with us. It never abandons us. We can, in our grief and our pride, become blind to it. The Logos, the Universal Christ that was with God at creation, that moved upon the face of the deep, has stamped us with the Imago Die [e-MAAY-go day-e], the image of God. It is engraved on our hearts. It gives us consciousness. It electrifies our brains and courses . . . through our veins. We are never without it.
But we can seal ourselves away from the presence of God. We can entomb ourselves in tombs of arrogance and pride, tombs of superiority and ignorance, tombs of addiction and isolation, tombs of racism and hatred. It is these tombs that separate us from God. The story of Lazarus is a story about us. Christ is raising Lazar-US, Lazar-US. Christ is standing before us calling us from our tombs. He is shouting, “Come out! Come out! Come out.”
May we all answer Christ’s call. May we all come out of our tombs so that those who love us, those who weep for us may unbind us and let us go. In your moments of deepest sorry and loftiest pride, always, always look for resurrection because resurrection is there. It’s all around us. Let us be resurrected with Christ. Let us come out and be unbound and let go. God’s love is waiting for us. Amen.
Jack Richbourg is a frequent attendee and contributor to the 5:30 Contemplative Eucharist at Church of the Holy Communion
Other reflections by Jack Richbourg: The Son of Man and The Holy Name
Image by dozemode from Pixabay