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Lenten Soup Supper & Study
01 Apr 2020
06:00PM -
Adult Bible Study
02 Apr 2020
09:30AM - 11:00AM
Palm Sunday Service
05 Apr 2020
10:00AM - 11:00PM
Fellowship
05 Apr 2020
11:00AM - 12:00PM
Sunday school
05 Apr 2020
11:20AM - 12:00PM

 

  The sermon video can now be found

on Faith's Facebook page.

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March 29, 2020

 

FIFTH SUNDAY IN LENT 2020 A

In the movie, “Remember The Titans”, the black coach of a newly integrated black and white high school football team can’t seem to get them to treat each other with respect, so he takes them to the Lutheran Seminary in Gettysburg for their summer camp to try to bond better.  When it still doesn’t sink in, he takes them on a midnight run to where the Civil War battle was fought. He asks them to envision all the dead that lay on that battlefield because white and black couldn’t live together. He was telling his players that they were as dead as the bones left on that field if they didn’t treat each other like they were flesh, blood, and bone members of the same family.

“Dem bones, dem bones, dem dry bones” is how that old Negro Spiritual goes, which is based on our reading from Ezekiel.  Imagine that you are the prophet getting this message from God. “The power of the Lord came over me. The Lord brought me out by his Spirit and put me down in the middle of a valley.  The valley was filled with bones. I saw there were very many bones and they were very dry.”

The reading continues with the bones getting slowly ANIMATED.  Now, it may seem like a remake of the movie, “The Night of the Living Dead”, but honestly, it’s exactly the opposite.  The bones take shape. Ligaments and muscles give shape and support. Skin covers the bodies. Finally, God breathes life into them.

When the Isrelites had lost hope in themselves and as a nation, they were like dry bones who could accomplish little.  They had nothing to hope for—nothing that they could accomplish that would move them forward. When they needed action the most, they had no resolve.  Fortunately, God sees beyond the tragedies and sees possibilities.  

What we need to realize is that what we have in the Old Testament lesson is a sort of Time-lapse change.  It didn’t happen overnight. It took years, maybe even a generation or two before change came and they could finally reach their promised land.

When times get hard or maybe even unbearably hard, we do wish that change could be immediate.  But as we all know change that is promised over-night is probably a fantasy, a false hope. We wish for change.  We pray for change. The big question is whether we are willing to PAY THE PRICE FOR CHANGE? Let’s just see what change will cost us.

Today’s Psalm starts out, “O Lord, out of the depths I call to you.  O Lord hear my voice. Let your ears be open to my pleas for mercy.”  We needed to acknowledge that we have not individually or as a nation looked out for each other.  And we will pay a price for that.  

Isn’t it amazing how often what the Bible is talking about that was true a few thousand years ago is still true today?  In SO MANY places around the world there are unresolved conflicts that are taking people’s lives. Despite warnings, we have a pandemic that is causing worldwide suffering.

We could try to make excuses.  We could try to shift blame. Or we could take responsibility and make amends.  We could ask for forgiveness and extend forgiveness to others. That would give us a clean slate from which to put flesh on those dry bones and we personally and collectively could be ready to move ahead.

Our reading from Romans reminds us that there is spiritual warfare going on.  When we are corrupted to think of ourselves first, last, and mainly, we are not under God’s authority.  But with the Spirit of Jesus Christ in us, not even suffering or death can keep us from having the joy of life in Christ.

Today’s Gospel lesson brings some real SOBRIETY to partnering with Jesus Christ.  And let me tell you, this is not an easy partnering. If you have read the Gospels, then you would know that Martha, Mary, and Lazarus are siblings who are like family for Jesus.  Jesus is told that Lazarus is at death’s door. Yet Jesus stays to do ministry where he is. Then his disciples encourage him to stay away completely because he had a very rude reception from the Jewish leaders last time he was there.  They are acting out of fear, but Jesus does not give in to fear.

What we know is that Lazarus is critically ill and Jesus is not there.  But Jesus is not there for a totally different reason than the one that his disciples suggest. Jesus has work to finish where he is.  He is still teaching and healing people. And even though Jesus is God’s Son, he has come to us as a singular human being. Jesus once said to his disciples, “You will do more than I” because as a human he could only be in one place at a time, while his followers, which includes us, could minister in many places.  So, Jesus finishes his teaching and healing and then heads over to see Lazarus and his sisters Martha and Mary.

By the time that Jesus gets there, Lazarus has died.  Both Martha and Mary let Jesus know that they believe that Jesus could have saved Lazarus from dying if he had been there in time.  Martha says it with more of an edge than Mary does, but both are disappointed and probably a little confused at Jesus’ timing.  

Jesus is so late that the Mourners are already there to add to the concert of family members who are crying.  Jesus further shows his UTTER HUMANITY when he grieves deeply for Lazarus death. Some of the friends of the family take a jab at Jesus by intimating that Jesus should have been able to do a miracle to save Lazarus.

Jesus calls Lazarus to come out of the tomb, not to show off his power, but to show his UTTER HUMANITY.  But let me set the record straight. We humans are created in God’s image, so our deep feelings of love for someone comes from God.

Lazarus comes out looking kind of like THE MUMMY, just in case anyone forgot that he was a dead corpse.  Apparently, Jesus had more for Lazarus to do. Lazarus would die once again—but NOT THAT DAY!

All these lessons seem to be about DYING during a time that you and I can’t even be closer than 6 feet from each other for fear that we might infect each other and possibly bring death to one another.  But in reality, these lessons are reminding us that the life of the Christian is finding life in the midst of the DRY BONES!

Jesus’ question that he wants us to answer is, “In the midst of the dry bones, in the midst of death—HOW THEN SHALL WE LIVE?”  The answer is clear. Bring about the most life you can where are, in whatever way you can. And since we are surrounded by far more death than normal right now, then it’s our job to bring more life than ever before.

I don’t know about you, but I find myself more excited to help bring worship to our congregation.  I find myself telling anyone I talk to on the phone or on the internet to check out our service. I find myself praying for and checking in with more church members and family members.  I am intentionally going on more bike rides to get fresh air, and on most of my rides, I am visiting one of our members. I am excited to learn how to use the internet to be part of meetings and classes.  Being by myself, I also have more time to do some self-examination and consider changes, not because it’s the season of Lent, but because it’s the SEASON OF MY LIFE IN CHRIST!

In conclusion, I challenge and encourage you to take this time where we are surrounded by the possibility of suffering and death and the disruption of our lives and allow God to take any of your DRY BONES and to breathe life into you in new and exciting ways.  Stay in contact with God, loved ones, and friends. And as crazy as this may sound, let’s consider how we cannot only strive to keep Faith afloat with our time, talents, and giving. Let’s allow this to be a time to deepen our resolve and our faith in a life-giving God!

And all of God’s FULL OF LIFE CHILDREN SAID…AMEN!