The last few days have been bizarre for many and there has been much grief within us and around us. In our reading from St John’s Gospel (John11:1-45) Jesus meets us in grief. His friends are in trouble, Lazarus is dying.
As Jesus finally makes his way to Bethany, the news of Lazarus death is spreading, Jesus has arrived in time to grieve and mourn. We have all suffered loss and known grief, and these recent days are no exception as we look out to the world around us, yesterday the death toll of Covid19 reached over 1000 in the UK.
Martha is angry with Jesus for not being there sooner, but hopes beyond hope that there is still something he can do. Jesus answers Martha, “Your brother will rise again.” As the death toll of Coronavirus increases it is hard to hear God declare that death is no barrier, and it is hard for Martha too she doesn’t understand but Jesus says, “I am the resurrection and the life”
Mary comes with the same statement that her sister gave and Jesus stays with this grieving family Jesus weeps with Mary & Martha. At this time in our world and our nation, as the COVID19 death toll rises, we know Jesus knows grief, he knows what it is like to weep. As Jesus knows human grief, Mary and Martha are about to see what death really means when it stands before the Son of God. Jesus says “Lazarus come forth” And that promise “Your brother with rise again” is fulfilled as Lazarus walks out of the tomb.
We live today in a time of fear and grief. We don’t know what lays ahead, it will be scary for many – but we also do know that Good Friday is coming. and what comes three days later “On the third day, he will rise again”.
As we enter into Passiontide, as we take a step towards Holy week and a step further towards Good Friday, let us commit ourselves to walking through it together. Remember amid the grief and the fear that there is hope and I see it all around me, the next few days and weeks will be hard, but the joy of resurrection is to come.
“On the third day, he will rise again”. We can all have hope in these words, I leave you as always with a wonderful hymn for Passion Sunday:
All my hope on God is founded; he doth still my trust renew,
me through change and chance he guideth, only good and only true.
God unknown, he alone calls my heart to be his own.
Pride of man and earthly glory, sword and crown betray his trust;
what with care and toil he buildeth, tower and temple fall to dust.
But God’s power, hour by hour, is my temple and my tower.
God’s great goodness aye endureth, deep his wisdom, passing thought:
splendor, light and life attend him, beauty springeth out of naught.
Evermore from his store newborn worlds rise and adore.
Daily doth the almighty Giver bounteous gifts on us bestow;
his desire our soul delighteth, pleasure leads us where we go.
Love doth stand at his hand; joy doth wait on his command.
Still from man to God eternal sacrifice of praise be done,
high above all praises praising for the gift of Christ, his Son.
Christ doth call one and all: ye who follow shall not fall.
Your friend and Vicar
(Painting, Sebastiano del Piombo 1517–1519, Oil on wood, transferred to canvas National Gallery, London)