Our lectionary readings lead us into two graveyards – the first in Ezekiel 27, and then another in John 11. First we are called to stand with Ezekiel in a valley, surrounded by human bones strewn across the valley floor. We also gather with Mary, Martha, and their neighbors at the entrance to the tomb where Lazarus’ body is buried. The stench of death hovers like a funeral pall, pulling us back into our ashen and human reality. Even as we live, we march towards death; we are its prisoner. As my father-in-law said, after months of deep reflection following the medical specialist’s news that Allen had no more than two to three years to live: “I thought we had choices in this life, as to whether to say yes, or to say no—to everything. We do. But there is one thing we cannot say no to: and that is dying.”
God comes into the valley of the shadow of death and stands with us – among the dry bones; at the entrance to the tombs. Lent is also an invitation to recognize God’s presence and voice; God’s breathing among us. God is on the move, even in the valley of death and dry bones. Mary and Martha, in the valley of pain and anxiety surrounding Lazarus’ illness and death, reach out to Jesus. Jesus comes, Jesus calls their brother by name: “Lazarus, come out!” Jesus comes. Jesus calls us by name.
After three years, Allen was taken to the hospital because of a ruptured blood vessel. On the way in to surgery he said to those who surrounded him, “I know where I am going. I’ll either wake up in the recovery room, or in heaven.” His body died during the surgery. Allen woke up in heaven.
But if Christ is in you, though the body is dead because of sin,
the Spirit is life because of righteousness. If the Spirit of him
who raised Jesus from the dead dwells sin you, he who raised Christ
from the dead will give life to your mortal bodies also through the
Spirit that dwells in you. Romans 8:10-11
Lent is an invitation to look forward, into and beyond death, to the resurrection.
Look for small signals of resurrection within and around you, as you walk towards holy week and Easter.
Prayer before reading:
Lord Jesus Christ,
You come to us.
Help me to see as you see,
To recognize your presence,
And your call
To follow you.
Guide me, us as I learn to walk in your way.
Read slowly. Listen deeply. Indwell the scripture.
Season of Lent: Week Five
4/4 Monday: John 11:1-16
4/5 Tuesday: John 11:17-45
4/6 Wednesday: Psalm 130
4/7 Ezekiel 37:1-14
4/8 Friday: Romans 8:6-11
4/9 Saturday: John 11:1-16
4/10 Sunday: John 11:17-45