OK, so I heard the story of Lazarus a lot when I was a child in Sunday School and again as an adult in church as part of Jesus’ teachings. And today when Peter read us the story again (John 11:32-44) it was all very familiar until he read out the last line of the passage which says “unbind him and let him go”. Suddenly a tiny light shone in my brain. One of those ah-ha moments for sure.
Then when Karen started speaking about All Saint’s Day as being a day to remember and give thanks for the lives of the saints, our parents, our teachers, our children, our siblings…anyone who has loved you and influenced you, it all started to make sense. She asked what is the truth that bothers you the most? What is it about this climax to Jesus’ ministry that speaks to this great separation from loved ones that death represents? What depths of agony and sorrow are contained within both Mary’s and Martha’s charge to Christ that “if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” In spite of subsequent events in the story and the depth of faith they showed, this cry still resonates within us. But then she related a story about one of her mentors who suddenly mused in mid-lecture that those whom we call dead are the only ones who are truly alive in Christ. What a celebratory thought that is.
But what is it that holds us back from the best this life has to offer? Fear and insecurity are the ties that bind us to being less than our best selves and living to our fullest potential. So Karen encouraged us all to accept Christ’s invitation to come and see, to loosen the bonds of anguish or anger or sorrow or fear so that we are free to live a life of unbounded joy. Jesus invites us to love our God with all our hearts, all our minds, all our soul and all of our strength. In this way, we can shake off the shrouds binding us to a mortal life only and let us go forward in the hope of the resurrection.