Here is my draft reflection/ sermon for the morning. I think I’ve rambled too much in the middle, and lost concentration by the end, but I’ll look again at them before I preach it. It’s very short, but it never stays like that when I preach.
Fhew! I hope you would excuse me if I took a few breaths after reading all of that! Our gospel today is one of the longest in our lectionary. Sometimes, I don’t understand what they were thinking when long readings appear on a Sunday morning, but this week I’ll forgive them, because the story of Lazarus can’t really be divided.
“Lazarus, come out!”
And the dead live.
I don’t blame the on-lookers for being astonished when Jesus calls Lazarus out of the tomb, death is usually so…..final….that for someone to command the dead to walk, and the dead actually responding must have been something beyond belief, and if we’re honest, quite frightening.
But even though his is called to new life, he is still confined, and constrained by all the trappings of death.
“The dead man came out, his hands and feet wrapped with strips of linen, and a cloth around his face.” John 11. 44
Alive, but bound. How many of us would that describe?
There are many things in life that can bind us, that can constrain us, that can keep us [as prisoners] in darkness, and away from the true light of life.
Even when we hear Jesus calling into life, and the joy he offers us, there are many things in life that weigh us down. I wonder what are the heavy things that are trapping you today?
Maybe the expectations of others? The heavy load of work we took on because we couldn’t say ‘no’? Maybe you’re bound by the limitations you set yourself, by continuing to carry a burden from days, months, years ago? By believing the unkind words of others, or dwelling on a hasty judgment from the distant past.
Maybe you are limited by your fear of failing. Or scared of what others will think?
There are many things that can bind an individual.
What things do you think are currently binding the church?
Fear of change as we continue down the path of ministry areas? Fear of sharing the little we have with others and spreading our resources too thinly. Nostalgia for the past? To a time when church going was in the basis nature of society? Maybe it’s our fondness for our buildings, and the buildings being our property which stops us from re-imagining what church can be for those lost generations?
What about the churches fear of upsetting people, and our need to keep unity above all else?
There are so many things that bind us, that trap us, that keep us in a state that is not life. Bound in our grave clothes, unable to move, unable to see what is around us.
[There has been one passage from Isaiah 61 which has been floating around my head for the past few weeks, it’s one you should know quite well by now because it’s been read at every PCC we’ve had in the last few month.
“ to proclaim freedom for the captives
and release from darkness for the prisoners”]
Death, or lack of life can come in many forms.
Jesus calls us to life. We are called not just to release ourselves, but also others around us.
Then the Jews said, “See how he loved him!”” John 11.35-36
Shaking off those things that bind us can be a difficult possess, but not an impossible one. Jesus brings life, not just to those who are dead, but also to those who are dying due to the things that bind them.
Love can release so many burdens, and release so many binds. It is love that can cast away the fear that holds us so tight. It is love that can “Take off the grave clothes and let [us] go.” John 11.44
On this Passion Sunday, pray that God will once again put a new life within us and that during this passion and Easter season we might be transformed to live by God’s spirit and create the kingdom of God on earth.