Sunday, March 29, 2020

Prelude … the lord of the dance by the Irish Tenors

 light the candles

Let’s start with three deep breaths and relax….

The following was shared by Pastor Judy Hanlon of the LGBT Asylum Task Force and it is written by Kitty O’Meara

And The People Stayed Home

And the people stayed home.
And read books, and listened, and rested, and exercised,
and made art, and played games, and learned new ways of being, and were still.
And listened more deeply.
Some meditated, some prayed, some danced.
Some met their shadows.
And the people began to think differently.
And the people healed.
And, in the absence of people living in ignorant, dangerous, mindless,
and heartless ways, the earth began to heal.
And when the danger passed, and the people joined together again,
they grieved their losses, and made new choices,
and dreamed new images, and created new ways
to live and heal the earth fully, as they had been healed. - Kitty O'Meara

Amen let us begin todays worship

Call To Worship (responsive):.
Leader: behold a miracle.
People: behold a miracle.
Leader: A valley full of dry bones is transformed into a people of love and life..
People: Behold a miracle.
Leader: The graves are open Death has lost its sting..
People: behold a miracle
Leader: let us worship the Lord

Here am I to Worship performed by Jeremy Camp

Fifth Sunday in Lent
As we gather this morning we miss the normal bustle of a church on a Sunday morning: friends greeting each other, choir members getting their robes, children bringing their energy and enthusiasm. Now that we are sitting together in our own sacred spaces, grieving this loss of ritual, connection, and community I invite you to close your eyes . . . and consider the word, “sanctuary.” A sanctuary is a place set aside for sacred things. It is a place of refuge and protection. The room you are in right now is a sanctuary. The season of Lent is a kind of sanctuary, extended in time. And one of the things Lent teaches is that you, too, are a sanctuary. There is inside you a place for sacred things, a place where God abides.
(Silent time.)
As we extinguish this light, we acknowledge the darkness and pain of war and oppression in the world.
(A candle is extinguished.)
Let us pray:
Loving God, we open our hearts to you. We invite you into our inmost being, only to find you already there. Strengthen us in our quiet places and then lead us into the work of justice and peace. Amen.

Today’s Gospel reading is

John 11:1-45

The Death of Lazarus
11 Now a certain man was ill, Lazarus of Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. Mary was the one who anointed the Lord with perfume and wiped his feet with her hair; her brother Lazarus was ill. So the sisters sent a message to Jesus,[a] “Lord, he whom you love is ill.” But when Jesus heard it, he said, “This illness does not lead to death; rather it is for God’s glory, so that the Son of God may be glorified through it.” Accordingly, though Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus, after having heard that Lazarus[b] was ill, he stayed two days longer in the place where he was.
Then after this he said to the disciples, “Let us go to Judea again.” The disciples said to him, “Rabbi, the Jews were just now trying to stone you, and are you going there again?” Jesus answered, “Are there not twelve hours of daylight? Those who walk during the day do not stumble, because they see the light of this world. 10 But those who walk at night stumble, because the light is not in them.” 11 After saying this, he told them, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep, but I am going there to awaken him.” 12 The disciples said to him, “Lord, if he has fallen asleep, he will be all right.” 13 Jesus, however, had been speaking about his death, but they thought that he was referring merely to sleep. 14 Then Jesus told them plainly, “Lazarus is dead. 15 For your sake I am glad I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him.” 16 Thomas, who was called the Twin,[c] said to his fellow disciples, “Let us also go, that we may die with him.”
Jesus the Resurrection and the Life
17 When Jesus arrived, he found that Lazarus[d] had already been in the tomb four days. 18 Now Bethany was near Jerusalem, some two miles[e] away, 19 and many of the Jews had come to Martha and Mary to console them about their brother. 20 When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went and met him, while Mary stayed at home. 21 Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. 22 But even now I know that God will give you whatever you ask of him.” 23 Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.” 24 Martha said to him, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.” 25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life.[f] Those who believe in me, even though they die, will live, 26 and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?” 27 She said to him, “Yes, Lord, I believe that you are the Messiah,[g] the Son of God, the one coming into the world.”
Jesus Weeps
28 When she had said this, she went back and called her sister Mary, and told her privately, “The Teacher is here and is calling for you.” 29 And when she heard it, she got up quickly and went to him. 30 Now Jesus had not yet come to the village, but was still at the place where Martha had met him. 31 The Jews who were with her in the house, consoling her, saw Mary get up quickly and go out. They followed her because they thought that she was going to the tomb to weep there. 32 When Mary came where Jesus was and saw him, she knelt at his feet and said to him, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” 33 When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who came with her also weeping, he was greatly disturbed in spirit and deeply moved. 34 He said, “Where have you laid him?” They said to him, “Lord, come and see.” 35 Jesus began to weep. 36 So the Jews said, “See how he loved him!” 37 But some of them said, “Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man have kept this man from dying?”
Jesus Raises Lazarus to Life
38 Then Jesus, again greatly disturbed, came to the tomb. It was a cave, and a stone was lying against it. 39 Jesus said, “Take away the stone.” Martha, the sister of the dead man, said to him, “Lord, already there is a stench because he has been dead four days.” 40 Jesus said to her, “Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?” 41 So they took away the stone. And Jesus looked upward and said, “Father, I thank you for having heard me. 42 I knew that you always hear me, but I have said this for the sake of the crowd standing here, so that they may believe that you sent me.” 43 When he had said this, he cried with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!” 44 The dead man came out, his hands and feet bound with strips of cloth, and his face wrapped in a cloth. Jesus said to them, “Unbind him, and let him go.”
The Plot to Kill Jesus
45 Many of the Jews therefore, who had come with Mary and had seen what Jesus did, believed in him.

The word of God for the people of God!

Thomas R. Kelly writes in his spiritual classic, A Testament of Devotion:

Over the margins of life comes a whisper, a faint call, a premonition of richer living which we know we are passing by. Strained by the very mad pace of our daily outer burdens, we are further strained by an inward uneasiness, because we have hints that there is a way of life vastly richer and deeper than all this hurried existence, a life of unhurried serenity and peace and power.[1]

I had a professor at Claremont school of theology that used to say; ”I hate to be the one to tell you this but it’s not a matter of if but a matter of when.” From the day we are born we begin to die. It’s as if our bodies are already dressed in grave clothes. As marvelous as science is, it has not yet mastered life’s greatest enemy, death. Yet there is one who has.
What kind of life would we lead if we were guaranteed not to die? How would we live if we knew already that we were immortal like a kind of Superman or Superwoman? Would we be in such a hurry to get so much done? Would we be so troubled by a disruption of our daily routine?

There is something hard about this reading.  Jesus waited.  God waited.  God allowed someone to die and for “The people he loved” to suffer. Yet isn’t this the experience of everyone at one time or another. Sometimes we pray and God delays. Why?

 Though not one of the twelve disciples, I do believe this is the one whom Jesus loved, Lazarus was at least one of Jesus’ closest friends. When Jesus heard of his friend’s sickness, he indicated God’s purpose by saying that the illness would be used for God’s glory and God's Son’s glory. While others panicked, and were concerned, Jesus was calm in his faith. Then he went on to say that God’s purpose was “so that you may believe.”

Lazarus’ sisters both responded quite emotionally that if Jesus had been there sooner he would not have died. By this time, he had been dead four days. Again, Jesus emphasized the necessity of belief, of faith. Even his prayer, which was a public prayer, was said so that hearers may believe.

In the Play Corpus Christi by Terrance McNally we get a little different view of this miracle.

Simon there was an old man Lazarus. He’d been dead for six days and was starting to smell to high heaven. He had a wife and six daughters. I wish you could heard the racket they were making.
                And we do as the DISCIPLES become the WAILING WOMEN.
                They are Loud.

Joushua Arise Lazarus.

Simon  I think this was one of the practical miracles. I mean, there was no big reason for it.  Lazarus was no big Cheese or even especially a nice guy.  Joshua just couldn’t stand the noise.

Joshua Shut up, women.  Thank you.  Lazarus arise.

                LAZARUS suddenly sits up. ( in the 2006 version everyone screams in horror)

LAZARUS what’s the matter with you? You’d think you seen a ghost!

Joshua You have been asleep Lazarus – not for six days but for all the years of your life. Now live as if your very life depended on it.

LAZARUS How do I live? Teach me.

JOSHUA Be awake every moment and give thanks to God the Father for it. Give back as much – no, more! - Than you have been given. Laugh. Fill your lungs with His good air and Pray.  You have all forgotten how to pray.”[2]
Have we forgotten How to pray?  Or have we become obsessed with prayers of need and want or prayers for that miracle? Now is a time where we can focus our prayer and pray into whatever it is we are doing at the time.
As many are reporting that they are taking time to clean the house, to organize closets, to prepare a decent and healthy meal, to learn a new craft or finish some that they have started.  These are all, each and every one an opportunity for prayer. An opportunity to lift prayer into our daily routine so that each and everything we do becomes a prayer, gifted to god in thanks, in anticipation and in hope.
Before Lazarus’ resurrection (John 11:1-45) several things happened, perhaps serving as clues as to what we might expect before God intervenes. What w emight expect in a between time. Or a time of longing.
Before God intervenes… Delay.  A sacred time of living into the situation we are in, a time where we must seek out our own way of just being. Of just being present to the temporary events we are living into, breathing into.  Jesus stayed several more days after hearing of Lazarus’ Illness while the family had to cope, comfort each other and find acceptance of their situation.
Before God intervenes… Opposition: When Jesus finally decided to go, the disciples tried to dissuade him.  This opposition to a miracle sometimes comes as we love our misery, or we hate change, even if it might be for the better of the situation or worse yet the betterment of ourselves. We struggle in keeping to ourselves. Social distance becomes more of a trial as we feel this urge to rebel against it.
Before God Intervenes…Blame: Martha and later Mary told Jesus that if he had been there her brother would not have died. Often too we blame ourselves for whatever our situation may be or blame others…this never would have happened if I only had done this or if you had only done that …or in the current situation this never would have happened if not for the China, which unfortunately has been translated into unprovoked acts of violence against Asian Americans.
Before God Intervenes…Doubt: Martha also doubted that anyone could do anything after her brother had been dead four days. We become stuck in our own situations.  Feelings of helplessness or hopelessness overwhelm us and we cannot seem to move on. We may feel depressed and alone in this current situation.
All of these emotions and moments where fear, hate and doubt can be allowed to creep in we must lift up to God to ask for our own redemption if you will.
God may choose to bless us with a temporary miracle, and our faith may be tried but I believe we need to follow the wisdom of Terrance McNally’s Joshua. Be awake every moment and give thanks to God the Father for it. Give back as much – no, more! - Than you have been given. Laugh. Fill your lungs with His good air and Pray.”[3]
The miracle given is not the resurrection, in my opinion, it is the opportunity to live life to the fullest.  A gift we can embrace daily. Making the most out of our current situation and lift it up in joy.
You know Tim McGraw, the country artist, has a song that address a similar situation. The song tells a story of a man in his forty who gets hit with the news of being terminal when asked what he did with that he says ;
“"I went skydiving
I went Rocky Mountain climbing
I went 2.7 seconds on a bull named Fumanchu
And I loved deeper
And I spoke sweeter
And I gave forgiveness I'd been denying"
And he said
"Someday I hope you get the chance
To live like you were dying"[4]
Jesus said; “Lazarus come out.” The dead man came out, his feet bound and his hands tied, and his face covered with a cloth.  Jesus said untie him and let him go!” (John 11:44)  That is the miracle Lazarus was free from what bound him able to live life as Jesus wants us to live.
We are called to live and laugh and love fully in this life, to offer forgiveness and understanding where we can, to offer hospitality and companionship, and to fight for those who have less than, so that they too may have the opportunity live a resurrected life.
That’s it right simple live free and forgiven and proclaim it to all.  Simple to say the challenge is to try and to do it every day.  Do not wait for a miracle, be the miracle. And choose to live a Resurrected Life! Amen!

Please write your joys and concerns in the comment section and I will lift them up after this hymn

Late winter early spring… By John Denver

Let us pray the prayer Jesus taught us

Our Creator, who art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kin-dom 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 kin-dom, and the power, and the glory, forever. Amen

Normally this would be the call to the offering if you would care to you can mail in your offerings or go to the top of the webpage and click the donate now
The office is open for regular hours
We are accepting donations for the kidz cupboard and the food pantry

I am available for one on visits or phone calls if you need any prayer we will be together again soon but until then remember you are the hands and the feet of our lord in this world and in this world of no physical contact we can still smile, wave, chat , check in

Our God is an awesome God performed By the Acapella Group GLAD

[1] Stephen W. Smith, Living the Lazarus Life: A Guidebook for Spiritual Transformation (Colorado Springs, CO: David C. Cook, 2009),
[2] Terrence McNally, Corpus Christi: A Play (New York: Grove Press, 1998), 58.
[3] Terrence McNally, Corpus Christi: A Play (New York: Grove Press, 1998), 58.
[4] Tim McGraw, Live like you were dying [piano, vocal, chords] (Miami, Fla: Warner Bros., 2005).

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