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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After she said this, she went and spoke privately to her sister Mary, “The teacher is here and he’s calling for you.” When Mary heard this, she got up quickly and went to Jesus.

When Mary arrived where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet and said, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother wouldn’t have died.”

When Jesus saw her crying and the Jews who had come with her crying also, he was deeply disturbed and troubled. He asked, “Where have you laid him?”

They replied, “Lord, come and see.”

John 11:28-29, 32-34

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I stopped my friend when I saw her on campus. “How is your sister?” I asked.

The news was not good. My friend’s beloved younger sister was no longer responding to the chemotherapy for her cancer. The disease had spread, and the doctors had recommended hospice. The family was preparing for her death.

As I stood with my friend listening to her pour out her grief, I felt a swirling mix of emotions: grief for my friend and sadness for her family. And – surprising to me – I felt anger. It wasn’t fair! How could this be happening to a young and vibrant person whom everyone loved?

In today’s scripture passage, the gospel writer tells us that Jesus is “deeply disturbed and troubled” when he meets Lazarus’s mourners. Some translators even use the word “indignant,” a word that suggests anger about injustice.

Perhaps, like me, Jesus felt frustration at the power of death over human beings. But, because he is Jesus, he can do something about it. He starts by asking where his beloved friend has been buried. “Come and see,” say the grieving people, and he goes with them.

Jane Claspy Nesmith

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Merciful God, you have shown us that, like us, you are disturbed and troubled by death, by grief, by injustice. You recognize these feelings and you do not negate them. Help me remember that you will go with me when I am disturbed and troubled. 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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