Looking Forward to Sunday: Can These Bones Live?

Rev. Daniel Eggold

Mar 22, 2020

Readings:

Ezekiel 37:1–14; Psalm 130; Romans 8:1–11; John 11:1–45 (46–53)

The Raising of Lazarus by Rembrandt

Before it is anything else, Sunday’s gospel is an up-close, deeply personal story of grief. Even the movements seem familiar: Jesus is on the way, then present to each sister. At last, he stands outside the tomb of his friend who has died, and whom the community mourns.

     In Sunday’s first reading, we are swept up with Ezekiel and deposited into a wilderness valley full of dry, dead bones. In the valley, God asks Ezekiel, “Son of Man, can these bones live?” (Ezekiel 37:3). Of Lazarus in our gospel reading for today, we, like Ezekiel, might also respond: “O Lord God, you know.” How can dry bones come to life? And how could a dead man ever possibly live again? Indeed, we might wonder if it will be enough, ever could be enough, that Jesus is “the resurrection and the life” (John 11:25). At the same time, we easily understand and echo Martha and Mary, who were both accusing angrily and confessing hopefully when they said, “Lord, if you had been here...” (John 11:21, 32).

     As John tells it, Lazarus has been in the tomb four days by the time Jesus arrives. By then the whole village is awash in grief. When Jesus weeps too, they are amazed at his loving devotion: here is a strong sign of connection, a visible reminder that Jesus is truly present among human community, not above it. In the end, Jesus does what we could never imagine was even a remote possibility. He calls to the one entombed; he summons life, like the Spirit blowing over the valley in Ezekiel. God is up to something! Here, a sign of signs: God is making all things new.

     New life is emerging from the tombs of our world and from the shadowed corners of our hearts. May Jesus’ resurrecting power be felt deep in our own bones!

Prayer

Almighty God, your Son came into the world to free us all from sin and death. Breathe upon us the power of your Spirit, that we may be raised to new life in Christ and serve you in righteousness all our days, through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.