God of all consolation and compassion,
your Son comforted the grieving sisters,
Martha and Mary;
your breath alone brings life
to dry bones and weary souls.
Pour out your Spirit upon us,
that we may face despair and death
with the hope of resurrection
and faith in the One
who called Lazarus forth from the grave.
It’s April 1, and I thought about beginning this with some great prank, but the truth is, I am terrible at that sort of thing, so instead let me just say that I hope wherever you are, it’s beginning to (finally) feel like spring — if you are in the northern hemisphere, that is!
Technically it is spring, and we are past the mid-point of Lent; the RCL readings for the fifth Sunday in Lent can be found here. I’m not preaching this week because my seminarian is, and I can’t quite believe I’m saying this, but I am sort of sorry to miss this opportunity preach on dry bones; I do love this text from Ezekiel (and I just want to sing “Dem bones, dem bones, dem dry bones” to be perfectly honest, probably to the horror of my music director!) Are trying to breathe new life into dry bones? Might this text have something to say to you this week?
I have a tough time with this week’s 2nd reading take from Paul’s letter to the Romans because of the way it seems to dichotomize flesh/body and spirit. I think I am particularly sensitive to this because of some classes I’ve been taking. And I think we are BOTH body and spirit in a kind inseparable way. Nonetheless Paul’s ongoing affirmation of the power of Christ’s presence in our lives is one we need to continue to dwell on.
As in previous weeks, our gospel comes from the Gospel according to John and tells the story of Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead. This is one of those stories that is so well known we preachers sometimes wonder what more we can offer, and yet the text is ripe with possibilities. At the end of what has been a long and hard winter for many of us, and as Lent winds to a close, we are longing for new life. How does Lazarus’ being raised from the dead address that longing? And how can we take another familiar story and make it fresh?
So do you have a sense of direction for this week, preaching friends? Join the conversation with your ideas, your ponderings, your questions–whatever you’ve got, we’re here for it!