We have come to the final week in our series on “Living Our Baptismal Calling.” Today’s Scripture is the story of Lazarus being raised from the dead. Lazarus, the brother of Mary who had perfumed and washed Jesus’ feet with her hair. Lazarus, brother to Martha as well. Do we remember the Lazarus story? Jesus had been traveling and had gotten away from Judea because folks were disagreeing with his teachings. But he gets word that Mary’s brother has died and she calls for him. He returns to raise Lazarus from the dead- to show those who are there to witness to believe!
Belief in resurrection is not just the promise of heaven. It isn’t just being raised to new life but rather an encounter with the holy- something experiential, personal, spiritual, and emotional. Jesus tells Martha her brother will rise again, and then he asks her if she believes in resurrection. She answers first in a general way: “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.”
Her response only becomes specific and personal when Jesus turns from conversation to personal experience, from general knowledge to holy encounter, by saying, “I am the resurrection and the life. Those who believe in me, even though they die, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?”
She said to him, “Yes, Lord, I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, the one coming into the world” (John 11:36-37 NRSV).
So, I ask you friends, “Do you and I believe?’
Yes, Lord, I believe.
Yes, Lord, I am believing into you.
Yes, Lord, I am believing into the resurrection of the body and the life everlasting.
Perhaps belief in this holy encounter comes when physicality intersects with spirituality. When we have a physical response in an encounter with the holy: our skin tingled, we could barely speak, perhaps we felt overcome with love and emotion.
The power of believing into the resurrection is found in love.
- The miracle of love.
- The miracle of being loved.
- The miracle of people choosing to love instead of hate.
It is overwhelming, that God so loved the world, that God so loved me personally, that he would give his only son, that whoever believed into him should not perish, but have eternal life. It is overwhelming, that God would do this for any of us.
Friends do we believe? Have you asked yourself this lately? Is the apostles Creed that we recite something that we truly embrace?
If so, as we believe we are living into eternal life. May we see the fruits of life eternal not just after we physically die but while we are physically and spiritually awakened and alive in Christ. May we be prepared at all times to proclaim our belief and welcome the intersection of the physical with the spiritual. Perhaps that is best expressed this morning through the eating and drinking of bread and the cup.
Would you join me in the Great Thanksgiving as printed in your bulletin?
NRSV, NIV and CEB Bible Translations
Dawn Chesser, UMC Discipleship Worship and Lectionary Planning. Nashville: Discipleship Resources, 2017.