Monday, April 4, 2011

Looking Ahead to April 10, 2011 -- 5th Sunday of Lent

The single Scripture Reading this week is John 11:1-45.

The Sermon title is Wake Up!

Early Thoughts:  What is dead?  What needs to be raised?  Is life the winner in the end?

That last question is key.  Does life really win???????  After all there is so much evidence to the contrary.  So much of life seems to be spent marking the passing of so much that we hold dear.  Can we, with confidence say that life wins?

It is an article of faith that we can.  It is a base part of Christian faith that life wins -- in the end.  But saying that life wins does not take away all the struggles that lie along the path to the eventual victory.

There are a lot of preaching possibilities in this passage.  Like the Gospel readings of the past few weeks, one could easily spend a month on this passage alone.  We have a Jesus who tarries and lollygags so that by the time he arrives Lazarus is dead--and is then chastised for doing so by Martha and by the crowd.  We have Jesus' proclamation "I AM the resurrection and the life".  (We could preach about different understandings of resurrection found in that exchange.)  We have Jesus weeping -- out of mourning or out of frustration that people don't see?  WE have Jesus' comment early in the story about walking in darkness versus the light of day.  WE have the sleeping/waking imagery.  And of course we have the raising of Lazarus itself.  Where do we go?

This year I think we pull in bits from many of those places.  We talk about the hard road to the eventual victory of life.  We name that sometimes it seems those who could help are not as responsive as we would wish.  We name our grief and frustration.  And we remind ourselves that life will win--in the long run.

What is dead in our lives today?  Are we ready to hear the voice saying "come out!"?  Are we willing to admit that life will win?  Are we willing to take the chance that comes with proclaiming life, new life in Christ?  Because as John's story flows this raising of Lazarus is the final straw.  If Jesus is bringing life then he must die.

But of course that is not quite the rest of the story.

Come on Sunday ready to talk about life that still wins.

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