Mid Week Devotion 5/20/2020 “Time”
Good morning, afternoon or evening, depending on when you are watching this mid-week version of our online church presentations. I want to extend a greeting to those of who who are joining in today, however you found us, welcome! My name is Pastor Mel, I trust you find this space comforting, refreshing and safe as we continue to journey through life in quarantine.
I have an urgent call for prayer for Charlie Beddingfield who suffered a brain bleed. He is currently at Memorial Hospital. Continued prayers for Kristine Earp and her eye trouble. Prayers for safety and smart choices for the upcoming Memorial Day weekend. Prayers for Governor J.B. Pritzker and our elected officials on the tough decisions they will need to be making. Take a moment to add any other prayers at this time. (Pause) Let us pray.
In a world where many feel isolated and alone, we thank you for your constant companionship. In situations of violence and hatred, we thank you that we have heard your commandment to love one another. In times where many are unsure of what is safe, thank you for your many blessings of assurance. As you continue to love us, make us faithful friends who love one another by proclaiming the Good News of the resurrection to all. We ask this in your name. Amen.
Lord, be with us as we pray the words which you have given to us;
Our Father, who art in heaven, Hallowed be thy Name.
Thy Kingdom come. Thy will be done on Earth As it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our trespasses,
As we forgive those who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory,
For ever. Amen.
SCRIPTURE – John 11:38-44
Jesus Raises Lazarus From the Dead
38 Jesus, once more deeply moved, came to the tomb. It was a cave with a stone laid across the entrance. 39 “Take away the stone,” he said.
“But, Lord,” said Martha, the sister of the dead man, “by this time there is a bad odor, for he has been there four days.” 40 Then Jesus said, “Did I not tell you that if you believe, you will see the glory of God?” 41 So they took away the stone. Then Jesus looked up and said, “Father, I thank you that you have heard me. 42 I knew that you always hear me, but I said this for the benefit of the people standing here, that they may believe that you sent me.”
43 When he had said this, Jesus called in a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!” 44 The dead man came out, his hands and feet wrapped with strips of linen, and a cloth around his face.
Jesus said to them, “Take off the grave clothes and let him go.”
I heard one of the late night talk show comedians say something like, “Due to the stay at home orders, I finally have time to get all my projects done. I’m not doing any of them, I just have the time to do them.” This made me think of how many times I have squandered wonderful gifts. It wasn’t until long after I squandered them that I realized that I had done so. We get so caught up in the moment, we miss things that are obvious with hindsight.
Martha and Mary were missing the story Jesus was trying to reveal to them because of the moment they were caught up in. Their brother was dying and they were waiting on Jesus to arrive. In their situation, they only had to wait a few days for the Lord to show them what needed to be seen. You and I have been waiting since March, and we don’t know when our waiting will end. Have we stopped to take a look around to see what needs to be done?
I’m not just talking about the cleaning or filing project that await completion around your house. I am talking about the spiritual vision that God is supplying right now for our faith journey. Maybe you feel like Lazarus today, sitting around with nothing more than time, waiting for a friend to call you out of your tomb. Our three days of waiting are drawing to a close. I wish I could tell you what day that will be, I don’t know that, but with each passing day it is drawing closer.
On that day, will it be safe when we venture out of our tombs? No. Then again, it has never been safe to venture out from our tombs. A lack of safety doesn’t stop Jesus from calling to us to, “come forth.” When Lazarus walked out of his tomb, he did so for more than being the answer to a Trivial Pursuit question. Through the grace of Jesus, Lazarus is living proof of God’s loving power. He is an example of the amazing grace that delivers resurrection.
Don’t you think this world is in need of resurrection message today? Yes, the resurrection in the life to come, but also a message for living today, right now. I know we need to wait for our governor to give us a green light, but in the meantime, we have also been given time to think about what that green light means? Once Lazarus was given the sign to live again, did he go right back to what he was doing before? Wasn’t the course of his life altered? Didn’t his path change direction? Did he not know in his heart the depth of suffering that separation can cause? Didn’t Lazarus begin to call on others? Many scholars believe he wound up being a bishop in the church.
I suggest that today we are like Lazarus. Not a self-pitying, downcast, woe is me, Lazarus. No, not that at all, but a fully engaged, recharged, fully believing disciple armed with the knowledge of true resurrection power. Do you and I need to die to know this power? No, isn’t three months of quarantine long enough to help us know what those three days of separation were like for Lazarus? I hope so.
Just like you and I need our friend Jesus to call us out from our brief incarceration, so too will this world need to hear the voice of Jesus calling them back to life. Not the same old life as before, but life that seeks more than to feed itself.
The world will need to see a radically changed church that no longer is overly concerned about self preservation but a church that is a home to the those is the grips of despair and pain and isolation. You and I may be called to the tombs of others who need to hear the compassionate word that Jesus is alive and cares. You and I may be the very ones called to be a source of strength and encouragement for a world in need of compassion.
Yes, I believe that God has given us time to complete many tasks. What yours is, I do not know. Talk to God about how you and your gifts can be fully utilized to help this world know it is still alive. Will it be safe? No. It will never be safe, but it will always be worth it
May God’s peace be with you until we meet again,
Stay safe and God bless.