Sunday Message 03 29 20 Raising of Lazarus John 11:1-45

Remember that story from Ezekiel, 

The valley of dry bones? 

 

In many ways, the world looks like a valley of dry bones 

Empty streets, restaurants, and businesses 

 

And in general, 

 even when we are not in a crisis, 

Our politics 

The church often can feel that way.. 

Our culture can become the same.. 

Our values 

Our charity 

Our relationships 

Dried out and stale… 

 

Death seems to creep into all aspects of our lives 

We are constantly fighting it back 

 

And this is only heightened now during a pandemic 

When we are more susceptible to letting fear control us. 

Because we are afraid of death.. 

 

How do we go from death to life? 

 

Attempting to take on the form of Christ, 

Being like Christ is life-bringing 

 

Is it following all the rules? 

Well it can be, 

It can begin there. 

But still law to --> grace is the direction we are moving in 

Once we have the law that is, 

Before that is ignorance 

 

Jesus sees the big picture 

The reality of death and beyond death 

Similar to the prophet Ezekiel 

He saw a prophecy of dry bones coming to life… 

 

The rebirth of the people 

Resurrection to new life 

 

“Prophesy to the bones” says God at first, 

then, “Prophesy to the breath” 

To the spirit 

 

You see, the bones and sinew and organs 

mean little without the breath 

Without life, energy, 

Which is love and joy and creativity 

 

That Spirit is about liberation 

Freedom from captivity 

Freedom from injustice 

Freedom from evil and hate 

Freedom from poverty 

Freedom from oppression! 

Whatever form that may take. 

 

In many ways, we are in the depths are we not? 

We see in tragedy or disaster, what lows we can stoop to. 

 

The other day I was talking about getting chickens 

So we can have eggs to eat in these perilous times. 

Mom asks and are you going to feed those chickens Nathan? 

ME??? I said… 

 

No, that is gonna be little Nataniel (the baby)

in there about to be born. 

 

As soon as he gets out of that belly he is getting to work! 

It's a new world we are living in 

We're going back in time 

 

But seriously 

How quickly we can turn into just the worst - In our fear 

 

Interesting here in the Psalm 

Is the focus on our own iniquities. 

In a time of distress – 

 

Why a focus on confession and forgiveness? 

It makes us active participants 

instead of just victims of whatever happens 

We must recognize past and current mistakes, 

This helps us to seek to change 

 

We can also recognize these experiences 

as events in our lives 

That can bring us growth 

Can shape our identity now and in the future 

In a positive way 

 

If we can ask for forgiveness for our sins 

And seek to learn from our mistakes and failures. 

 

There are things that we need to change 

Both personally and corporately 

As individuals and as a community, as a nation 

As a human species! 

 

These difficult times actually 

reveal what is binding us 

They show us more clearly just how captive we are 

To our circumstances, 

to matters that frankly, and I know a lot of Franks! 

That frankly, are out of our control 

 

But how to break free…? 

 

Our focus in negative situations 

can still be on gratitude over time.

 

Gratitude in the present circumstances for what we have 

And gratitude for our own capabilities 

 

If you’re at a place of acceptance, peace, and trust, then you’ll be able to navigate the challenges you’ll face toward your dreams. 

         -Benjamin Hardy 

 

And a sense of humility! 

The term “humility” comes from the Latin word humilitas, a noun related to the adjective humilis, which may be translated as “humble”, but also as “grounded”, or “from the earth.” 

Humility and humidity are linguistically very connected and for good reason. 

The word humidity is all about moisture and wetness. Humility, represents the soil. If the soil is humble, it absorbs the humidity. If the soil is not humble but hard, then it doesn’t absorb the humidity. 

Humble soil accepts the nutrients that humidity brings it. 

 

Reminds me of a story in a book by Joel ben Izzy called “The Lost Horse”: 

Long ago in a village in northern China lived a man who owned a magnificent horse, the people from all around the area admired this horse, and said the man was blessed to own one.  

“Perhaps, but what seems like a blessing, may be a curse.” 

One day the horse ran away and they came to say they were sorry about his bad luck.  

“Perhaps, but what seems like a curse, may be a blessing.” 

The horse returned, but not alone!  It was accompanied by 20 wild horses.  The man claimed them all and became very rich!  Once again, all the people came. 

“What seems like a blessing, may be a curse.” 

His son broke his leg riding one of the wild horses! 

And the same thing happened with the villagers. 

Then there was a war and his son was the only young man who did not go and die because of his broken leg… 

To this day, in that village, they say, 

“What seems like a blessing may be a curse.  What seems like a curse may be a blessing.” 

 

Everyone else was scrambling to and fro 

Trying to figure out what this all meant 

And the only one who was calm and peaceful 

Is the one they are all talking about! 

 

I think that is what it means to 

“Wait on the Lord” 

Connecting with the source of all that exists. 

Is important and necessary for us. 

 

For our peace of mind and heart. 

We hold onto The Good News 

 

The Word of God is what makes the dead come to life 

In Ezekiel’s prophecy, and in the raising of Lazarus. 

 

It is that connection to God in Jesus Christ 

That goes beyond our normal limitations 

And sees what is beyond even time and space 

Where God is, life and goodness, and love 

God’s Word of love and mercy 

Creates life in us today 

And life in the world 

 

God can free us 

from whatever is binding us in our daily lives

Whatever separates us from God’s love 

 

Where do you see the dry bones? 

Prophesy to those bones people! 

Prophesy to the Spirit! 

Bring new life in us today!! 

 

In our politics, 

Our culture, 

Our relationships, 

In our dreams for ourselves and our world, 

 

Purify us Lord, because it sure feels like we need it! 

Help us to put our hope in you 

He can redeem us 

He can 

 

So, we wait in the Lord 

In the midst of the fear and the anger 

The frustration and confusion 

 

We must breathe in that Spirit 

And hear God’s message of love and grace 

 

Revive our dry bones God 

Source of all goodness and love 

Give us peace 

 

Break the chains that bind us 

Move us forward in hope! 

 

 

 

 

Further notes from the message: 

Psalm 130 is a “penitential” Psalm.  

For what do we need penitence? 

Even many of the Pharisees came to believe in Jesus 

Yet it was also this act that set the leadership of Jerusalem on a course to kill him 

How can bringing someone to life lead to your death? 

1. Find a Safe and Brace Space 

2. Board The Roller Coaster and Hold on Tight 

3. Tell Your Story 

4. Learn What Is Normal in Grief/Crisis 

5. Take as Much Time as You Need 

6. Don’t Let Anyone Tell You What to Do 

7. Celebrate Your Growth 

8. Hold Onto Hope 

For Paul, the power of sin is not only personal, but also cosmic. The sin-sick cycle that determines the thinking and actions of individuals, of groups, of the world is complex and requires divine help. 

The Holy Spirit continues the work of producing the form of Christ in believers. That is, believers take on the form, or image, of Christ by dying and rising with him (Romans 6) and by living in conformity with the Spirit (Romans 8). 

the Spirit performs the process of transformation into the image of Christ individually and corporately as the members of Christ’s body discern righteous thinking that is manifest in righteous conduct that pleases God (12:1-5). Such conduct is marked by self-sacrificial love and enables a diverse community to glorify God together (Romans. 12-15, especially 13:8-10; 15:1-6). 

Elizabeth Shively 

Lecturer in New Testament Studies 
University of St. Andrews 
St. Andrews, Scotland, UK 

Our future goals often come out of 

how we define our past experiences

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