Today’s Bible reading and an excerpt:

John 11:38-44

Jesus, once more deeply moved, came to the tomb. It was a cave with a stone laid across the entrance. “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.”

Then Jesus said, “Did I not tell you that if you believe, you will see the glory of God?”

So they took away the stone. Then Jesus looked up and said, “Father, I thank you that you have heard me. 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.”

When he had said this, Jesus called in a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!” 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.”

More thoughts for meditation:

There are a lot of layers to be seen and heard in this story, but pay attention to Jesus’ instructions to the community and take a look at what happens. Lazarus is dead, he’s beyond hope, the community has sealed him into a space made for decomposing, smelly bodies. Jesus comes on the scene and with a simple prayer causes a dead man walk out of a tomb. Jesus is obviously capable of tending to and fulfilling all of Lazarus’ needs, but instead of doing everything himself, he asks/commands the community to involve themselves. His first instruction is: “Take away the stone.” Lazarus needs them to give him a passage way to escape death, to leave a place that has no life in it. Then after he raises Lazarus from death to life he says, “Take off the grave clothes and let him go.” Lazarus needs the community to come close, he needs them to brave his bad odor and free him from what is keeping him in bondage because he is unable to do it alone.

This is a story about needing each other. The path of health and healing is a path we take together. We cannot experience resurrection alone, we need the power of Jesus and the power of community. We cannot be whole apart from the Creator, the creation and its creatures because our healing is not just for ourselves, it’s for the entire creation.

Wendell Berry says it beautifully:

“Good work finds the way between pride and despair.

It graces with health. It heals with grace.

By it, we lose loneliness:

we clasp the hands of those who go before us, and the hands of

those who come after us;

 

we enter the little circle of each other’s arms,

and the larger circle of lovers whose hands are joined in a dance,

and the larger circle of all creatures, passing in and out of life,

who move also in a dance, to a music so subtle and vast that no

ear hears it except in fragments.”

Suggestions for action:

Reflect on areas you may be trying to change or heal alone. Where can you invite Jesus to perform resurrection and where can you invite others to remove the stone and take off your grave clothes?