Sunday 29th March 2020
Texts:- Ezekiel 37 vvvs 1-14, John 11 vvvs1-45
‘Dem bones, dem bones, dem dry bones, …now hear the word of the Lord’. We can picture the scene -a valley full of bones. Can they live? A silly question. Of course not …..unless….? It is the same with Lazarus -4 days dead -in that heat.
What makes the difference? The word of the Lord, through the prophet in the vision of the bones, then in the word of command, ‘Lazarus come forth’. One response would be to simply assert something on the lines ‘of our God is the God of the impossible’. It might be wiser to qualify that as ‘what seems impossible to us’. We can surely recall situations that seemed completely hopeless that turned out not to be so; from the trivial sporting examples, to the oncoming lorry that somehow missed us, or being operated on in the ‘nick of time’.
Yet we need to recognize our limitations in terms of our ability to fully understand life- let alone the mystery of God. In other words, we can also recall situations that unfortunately turned out to be hopeless for ourselves or our loved ones. At present humanity itself is facing a situation where the death toll from Covid 19 continues to rise, cutting lives short, reminding us of the ‘final enemy’.
Yet… yet, this is where, as Christians, we take those words of Jesus to heart, ‘I am the Resurrection and the Life’. Lazarus ‘came forth’ -yet he was to die eventually. That truth of human existence helps us understand those enigmatic words ‘If anyone has faith in me, even though they die, they shall come to life; and no one who is alive and has faith shall ever die.’ In John’s gospel there is a distinction between ‘existence’ which has a beginning and an end, (birth and death), and ‘life’ which has a beginning, (being born from above ch 3 v 3 & v 6) but which is not ended by death.
If we put it in another way in Christian thinking death is penultimate. We applaud all efforts to ‘save lives from Covid 19 and all the other threats to life. We believe in the sanctity of life, the dignity and worth of every single human being. We also trust in that which is ultimate ‘the resurrection to eternal life.’
Dem bones, dem bones, linked in the lectionary to Lazarus. Common to both -the word of the Lord. At this time that word to us could be carry on loving, helping, applauding, doing our bit in the struggle against the pandemic, whilst trusting that death is ultimately not the end. God Bless.