Sunday, March 29, 2020

Weeping with Jesus

John 11:1-45
Today is the second Sunday when worship together is suspended. I miss being with you all. It is odd, weird, talking to just the few folks who are here with us today recording this message, instead of a room full of people.

But there is a good reason for this. We are trying to contain this nasty COVID-19 virus, and help prevent its spread among us. We are trying to not get everyone sick at once, since we know the hospitals can’t handle so many really sick people at the same time. We are cooperating as well as we can with social distancing and isolation.

As a result, we are lonely. We are scared, worried that we or someone we love might be the next one to be sick. We are afraid someone we love might die from this disease. We hear a lot of rumors, a lot of blaming, a lot of theories about how to win this battle.
We are grieving. We want our normal lives back. But, it seems, it will be a while, several weeks probably, before things get back to normal. And even then, it will be a new normal.

And sometimes, we feel like Martha and Mary. We want to shout, “Jesus, if you had been here, this wouldn’t be happening!” We know that even though Jesus raised Lazarus from death, he died again, as all humans do. We know that although Jesus healed a lot of people while he walked the earth, there were many whom he never saw, never touched, never healed. While Jesus lived on earth, people still got sick and died.

So now what? What do we do with these feelings we are having? I think we start with expressing our feelings to one another. Have a conversation with someone you trust. When we discover that our spouse, our best friend, has the same feelings, it is strangely comforting. We know we are not alone in our anger, grief, fear.

And we remember that when Jesus saw the grief his friends Martha and Mary were suffering, he began to weep. Jesus wept because his friends were weeping. As it turns out, he was able to end their weeping by raising Lazarus from death.

We know that’s not likely to happen for us right now. But we can be assured that while we are weeping, Jesus is weeping too. Jesus puts his arms around us and holds us. Usually, I suggest that you reach out and hug one another, but we can’t do that right now except for those of us in the same household. But we remember how it feels, to be held, comforted, to have someone else wipe away our tears.

We can imagine Jesus’ arms around us and feel God’s love for us. We can remember that God is ever-present. God’s Holy Spirit resides within each of us. We are all the bearers of this Divine good news.

I suggest you consider this time at home a part of your Lenten fast, a retreat of sorts. There will be an end to this fast, to this time of separation. When we are together once more, we will celebrate with handshakes and hugs. We will enjoy the bread and wine of Holy Communion. And we will give thanks to God for getting us through this crisis. It will be like the first Easter, a wonderful celebration with shouts of joy.

Please be safe so you stay healthy. God bless.