Yesterday the Gospel lesson was the story of Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead. I listened to a sermon online in which the pastor talked about his ten year old daughter. She had made big plans to get together with her friends to celebrate her tenth birthday and then COVID-19 entered the picture and sheltering in place became the rule and all her plans went down the drain. Seeing her disappointment and her tears her father lovingly listened to her and promised her that they would still have her birthday party when the threat of the virus had passed. What touched me about this story is that it made me realize we are all in the same boat as that ten year old. What’s the big deal we could say to that ten year old? It’s just a birthday. It could be worse. What’s the big deal we could say about our own situation? So we have to shelter in place for a few days. So we have to work from home. So we don’t get to finish out the school year. But the truth is our hopes and plans and dreams are a big deal no matter what our age or our situation. And our God knows this as Jesus showed when He met Martha and He didn’t flinch from her anger when she said, “If you had been here our brother, Lazarus, would not have died.” So He listens to our anger and frustration in this present time of sheltering in place and He weeps with us at our losses and pain as He wept at Lazarus’ grave.
What is more He also issues a call. “Come out” He cried to Lazarus. “Come out” He cries to each one of us. Lazarus was bound by his grave clothes and needed to have his shroud unwrapped so he could return to living and serving. We need to be unwrapped from our anger and our grief and our disappointment so that we can serve. I have had to unwrap my disappointment of not being able to visit with patients in the hospital so that I can turn my attention to my ability to text and telephone and email and write this blog as alternate ways to connect with others and touch their hearts. You who are parents and also working people have to struggle to turn from your anxiety about your job to using this time to connect with your kids in deeper and more meaningful ways than you have been able to when life was normal. Everyone of us now have an opportunity to look within ourselves and ask what is holding me back right now? What are the grave clothes that are preventing me from hearing my God calling me to lay aside all the things that make me feel sorry for myself and focus on myself so that I can see where He is calling me to use my talents to be of some use to those around me. Love is stronger than death. Jesus weeps with us but above all He cries out with a loud voice, “Come out!!”