Welcome to the 5th Sunday of Lent. Nearly the end, only 1 more Sunday to go before we find ourselves in the time called Holy Week, which will lead us to the death of Jesus and the joy of Easter Day.
Our image this week is again from the African artist Jesus Mafa and is another image of stories of Jesus in an African context. The image this week is of Jesus raising his friend Lazarus from the dead.
This story sets the scene for Easter Day, but it is much more than a story of someone raising from the dead, because it is also the story of a family and a community caught up in grief and looking at the whole story reminds us of some of the things we need if we are to live in times of great sadness. There are more people in the picture than Lazarus.
This week I read these words from the Catholic spiritual teacher and writer Richard Rohr: “Many of us are carrying deep grief, individually and collectively, due to the barrage of crises we face today. We need — the world needs — an outpouring of lament and love to find hope and healing. In a time where religion often fails to meet our great crises and injustices, God is calling us to be prophets of Divine Love. We are being called to walk the prophetic path.” This week’s story tells us something about what it means to live out Divine Love and the way Jesus responds to the people in the story is a calling to all of us about how to live in the world.
First of all in the story we hear that Jesus does not rush. He is not drawn into the panic that the news of his friend’s death could have brought. Being a non-anxious presence is part of being a prophet of Divine Love. When we do it, we find what I am calling the “sweet spot” of truth of what is possible in the most difficult times. It sits between the between the despair of I can do nothing and the fear that we have to do it all. It happens when we step back and find the strength we need, the companionship and the presence of God and discover all we need to walk the prophetic path of Divine Love.
The story also tells us that Jesus does what he does intentionally: he does it on purpose. When he is ready to act on the news that his friend is dead, he decides to go to the place of grieving and sadness. He goes to the place we might rather not go towards. This is often what we have to do when we walk the path of Divine Love: we go towards the things we might rather stay away from. The ones who are struggling, the ones who ask the awkward questions, the ones who are angry (the grieving sister of Lazarus is very angry with Jesus in the story), the ones and the places we might find it hardest to go to. This is what it is to be a prophet of Divine Love.
I also read this this week, words from the author, feminist, and social justice activist, L. R. Knost: “Do not be dismayed by the brokenness of the world. All things mend. Not with time, as they say, but with intention. So go. Love intentionally, extravagantly, unconditionally. The broken world waits in darkness for the light that is you.”
And the story tells us that Jesus weeps, for weeping is part of living in difficult times. It is not a sign of weakness; it is a sign of being alive. It is a sign of being connected to others. When we walk the path of Divine Love, we will weep.
So take time to prepare yourself and then go towards the things that are hard and show love. Know that you will weep and know also that as you share love you will be met with love.
If you want to talk about anything here, or anything at all, please do get in touch.
Rev. Anne Sardeson