A Death in the Family
Jesus said to her, ‘I am the resurrection and the life.* Those who believe in me, even though they die, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die.'
John 11. 17 - 29
In the last week, several families I know have lost loved ones, some to tragic death and others to the timely death of age. Some of the families are of great wealth and pomp - in- stance and others are good hard working people of the everyday kind. But grief knows no socioeconomic bounds nor do broken hearts.
This week as we have read from the book of Job and the gospel of John, we have been reminded of the pain of life and death and the promise of salvation. Job says at the end of his story today,
O that I had one to hear me!
(Here is my signature! Let the Almighty* answer me!)
O that I had the indictment written by my adversary!
Dear God if I only knew why! What did I do wrong, he says.
In the gospel reading yesterday, when Mary and Martha rail Jesus for not having come sooner to save their brother Lazarus, Jesus says I am here, I am the resurrection and the life, and I am going to show you now what that means. And in today's gospel, Jesus takes them to the tomb, says roll back the rock and "Come out, Lazarus" and "Unbind him and let him go!"
What does this mean to those of us who grieve? What does Job hear from God in response to his cry? What do Mary and Martha learn in response to their interrogation of Jesus?
God shows up in a mighty way in the next chapter of Job - so stay tuned tomorrow, because there is no stronger statement from God in scripture than Job 38. 1 - 17.
And if you have been reading along in John's gospel, you will notice that when Jesus sees the deep mourning, wailing and grief of Mary and Martha, he weeps and he cries at their pain. It is such great comfort to realize that Jesus cries with us, God holds us in our grief, and the Holy Spirit upholds as we walk the Mourners' Path.
And then Jesus says the powerful words that begin most Christian funeral services..."I am the Resurrection and the Life...everyone who lives and believes in me will never die."
Life eternal awaits; our loved ones who have died have gone home to the arms of the Loving God, fully restored and reunited with the communion of saints gone before.
God of all, I pray to you for Elizabeth, Russ, Liza, Cyndi,
and for all those whom we love but see no longer.
Grant to them eternal rest. Let light perpetual shine upon them.
May their souls and the souls
of all the departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace.
S. W. Brooke