Weekly Liturgy : March 20-26
Jesus Raises Lazarus
Contemporary English Version
The Death of Lazarus
1-3 A man by the name of Lazarus was sick in the village of Bethany. He had two sisters, Mary and Martha. This was the same Mary who later poured perfume on the Lord's head and wiped his feet with her hair. The sisters sent a message to the Lord and told him that his good friend Lazarus was sick.
4 When Jesus heard this, he said, “His sickness won't end in death. It will bring glory to God and his Son.”
5-7 Jesus loved Martha and her sister and brother. But he stayed where he was for two more days. Then he said to his disciples, “Now we will go back to Judea.”
8 “Teacher,” they said, “the people there want to stone you to death! Why do you want to go back?”
9-11 Jesus answered, “Aren't there twelve hours in each day? If you walk during the day, you will have light from the sun, and you won't stumble. But if you walk during the night, you will stumble, because you don't have any light.” Then he told them, “Our friend Lazarus is asleep, and I am going there to wake him up.”
12-13 They replied, “Lord, if he is asleep, he will get better.” Jesus really meant that Lazarus was dead, but they thought he was talking only about sleep.
14-15 Then Jesus told them plainly, “Lazarus is dead! I am glad I wasn't there, because now you will have a chance to put your faith in me. Let's go to him.”
16 Thomas, whose nickname was “Twin,” said to the other disciples, “Come on. Let's go, so we can die with him.”
Jesus Brings Lazarus to Life
17-19 When Jesus got to Bethany, he found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb four days. Bethany was less than three kilometers from Jerusalem, and many people had come from the city to comfort Martha and Mary because their brother had died.
20-22 When Martha heard that Jesus had arrived, she went out to meet him, but Mary stayed in the house. Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. Yet even now I know that God will do anything you ask.”
23 Jesus told her, “Your brother will live again!”
24 Martha answered, “I know he will be raised to life on the last day,[a]when all the dead are raised.”
25-26 Jesus then said, “I am the one who raises the dead to life! Everyone who has faith in me will live, even if they die. And everyone who lives because of faith in me will never really die. Do you believe this?”
27 “Yes, Lord!” she replied. “I believe you are the Christ, the Son of God. You are the one we hoped would come into the world.”
28-31 After Martha said this, she went and privately said to her sister Mary, “The Teacher is here, and he wants to see you.” As soon as Mary heard this, she got up and went out to Jesus. He was still outside the village where Martha had gone to meet him. Many people had come to comfort Mary, and when they saw her quickly leave the house, they thought she was going out to the tomb to cry. So they followed her.
32 Mary went to where Jesus was. Then as soon as she saw him, she knelt at his feet and said, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.”
33-34 When Jesus saw that Mary and the people with her were crying, he was terribly upset and asked, “Where have you put his body?”
They replied, “Lord, come and you will see.”
35-36 Jesus started crying, and the people said, “See how much he loved Lazarus.”
37 Some of them said, “He gives sight to the blind. Why couldn't he have kept Lazarus from dying?”
38-39 Jesus was still terribly upset. So he went to the tomb, which was a cave with a stone rolled against the entrance. Then he told the people to roll the stone away. But Martha said, “Lord, you know that Lazarus has been dead four days, and there will be a bad smell.”
40 Jesus replied, “Didn't I tell you that if you had faith, you would see the glory of God?”
41-42 After the stone had been rolled aside, Jesus looked up toward heaven and prayed, “Father, I thank you for answering my prayer. I know that you always answer my prayers. But I said this, so the people here would believe you sent me.”
43-44 When Jesus had finished praying, he shouted, “Lazarus, come out!” The man who had been dead came out. His hands and feet were wrapped with strips of burial cloth, and a cloth covered his face.
Jesus then told the people, “Untie him and let him go.”
45 Many of the people who had come to visit Mary saw the things Jesus did, and they put their faith in him.
When I read stories like this, the skeptic in me demands a hearing. Did this event actually occur? Are Jesus’ miracles real? Why do we only seem to have stories about Jesus raising people from the dead from those who on his “side?”
But then I read the story again, and I’m reminded that Jesus often has a deeper lesson embedded in the miracles he performs. In this one, I think the lesson is found in Jesus’ response to Martha:
When the woman demonstrates her faith in a future new life for her brother, Jesus’ retort is to turn a future-tense expectation into a present-tense reality: I am…
Whether this story is factual or not, of this I am still convinced: The world we live in often leads us to believe that a better, deeper, more meaningful life is outside our reach and something only reserved for the “next life.” And against this, Jesus says that the abundant, eternal life we wish for is available to us now, today. And it comes in our moments of choosing to believe that it is worth it to mimic his way of being in the world. It takes a willingness turning the darkest moments we experience into occasions for healing, reconnection, and kinship.
Outward Mindset Application
Do you have access to any resources that would be helpful to a co-worker? Find out if anyone would benefit from sharing that resource with them.
Pathways Toward Centeredness
Sensation (loving the world through our senses): Find some paper and pencils. Attempt to draw the story of your life in one image. Afterwards, spend some time reflecting on any insights you gained in the process.
Questions for Reflection
Have you ever cried in public? How did you feel perceived by people around you? Do you think the world will ever be more comfortable with displays of difficult emotions? If you died and came back to life, what would your first words be?
One of our community practices is to gather every Sunday morning for prayer, friendship, and conversation about the week’s Scripture text. Doors open at 10:30am for coffee and donuts. Our circle begins at 11:00am. We’d love to see you there! The Open Table (@ The old DMV) 2640 N Portland Rd Salem, OR 97301
“Liturgy” refers to the habits and practices humans use to form community around shared values and meaning. At Church at the Park, we desire to be a community of practice, becoming people who see the world through the eyes of the marginalized, making meaning through the lens of pain and suffering, and committing ourselves to non-violence in a wounded world. This weekly email is intended to provide pathways of practice for becoming the type of people who embody these values.
Many of our reflections on each week's text come from other sources. If you're interested in reading more of what inspires us, here our our two favorite reflections.