Take a moment just now

To step away from the worries of illness and isolation.

Sit at the feet of a faithful Gospel writer.

Hear the stories of resurrection and life

And let those stories speak to you.

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A certain man, Lazarus, was ill. He was from Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. (This was the Mary who anointed the Lord with fragrant oil and wiped his feet with her hair. Her brother Lazarus was ill.) So the sisters sent word to Jesus, saying, “Lord, the one whom you love is ill.”

When he heard this, Jesus said, “This illness isn’t fatal. It’s for the glory of God so that God’s Son can be glorified through it.” Jesus loved Martha, her sister, and Lazarus. When he heard that Lazarus was ill, he stayed where he was. After two days, he said to his disciples, “Let’s return to Judea again.”

John 11:1-7

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This week’s passage about Resurrection and Life begins as a story: Once upon a time, there was a man named Lazarus... In a few short lines, this story sets up the situation. There are characters who love one another: Lazarus, Mary, Martha, and Jesus. There are two settings for the action: Bethany and Jerusalem. There’s a message that sets everything in motion: Lazarus is ill.

And like every good story, this one has plenty of tension and conflict: an illness that might or might not be fatal, a delayed visit, worried companions.

As readers, especially in these days of a global pandemic, we are drawn into the story right away. We’ve faced illness and the fear of illness. We’ve been away from dear friends during challenging times. We’ve worried about our future.

With this story, the gospel writer grabs our attention. If we’ve experienced these tensions in our lives, we want to know more. What will happen? How will the story end? What will Jesus do?

All we can do is read on to find out how this story is resolved.

Jane Claspy Nesmith

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Loving God, you are the creating Word, the source of all stories. Help me to be patient as I live into the story of my life, even as that story takes uncertain turns because of illness in our world. Keep me mindful of your guiding grace, always. Amen.

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Listen to these words: “I have called you by name, you are mine.” (Isaiah 43:1)

Go now, knowing that God calls you by name, and claims you with love.

Go now, knowing that God draws near when you cry out in sadness and anger.

Go now, ready to live a resurrection life.

Jane Claspy Nesmith

Jane Claspy Nesmith, a member of the United Methodist Church, teaches writing and directs the writing center at Coe College in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. She enjoys singing, birding, and hanging out with her husband and two adult sons.

Praying Together

John Morton

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