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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Jesus began to cry. The Jews said, “See how much he loved him!” But some of them said, “He healed the eyes of the man born blind. Couldn’t he have kept Lazarus from dying?”

Jesus was deeply disturbed again when he came to the tomb. It was a cave, and a stone covered the entrance. Jesus said, “Remove the stone.”

Martha, the sister of the dead man, said, “Lord, the smell will be awful! He’s been dead four days.”

Jesus replied, “Didn’t I tell you that if you believe, you will see God’s glory?” So they removed the stone. Jesus looked up and said, “Father, thank you for hearing me. I know you always hear me. I say this for the benefit of the crowd standing here so that they will believe that you sent me.” Having said this, Jesus shouted with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!” The dead man came out, his feet bound and his hands tied, and his face covered with a cloth. Jesus said to them, “Untie him and let him go.”

Therefore, many of the Jews who came with Mary and saw what Jesus did believed in him.

John 11:35-45

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Mary, Martha, and the other mourners stand outside Lazarus’s tomb, horrified when Jesus asks to have the stone rolled away. All they can think about is the stench of death. Not only that, they are probably remembering that touching the corpse would make them unclean according to scripture.

In the space of four days their dear friend has become a rotting corpse. No longer “Lazarus,” the body has become a danger to their piety and a reminder of their own demise, a vector for the spread of contagion.

How easy it might be for us to see our neighbors that way during this pandemic. Physical distancing might easily lead to spiritual distancing from our beloved community.

But Jesus wants everyone to see things differently: to see that God has different plans for us. We are not rotting corpses, we are God’s beloved, just waiting to step out of our tombs of death.

“Lazarus, come out,” calls Jesus. Called by Jesus, Lazarus leaves his tomb. Lazarus isn’t a corpse: he’s a person with a name. And so are we.

Let us all listen for Jesus calling our names. He calls us to leave the tombs of this world and step into everlasting life.

Jane Claspy Nesmith

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God of Resurrection and Life: you have told us that if we live in you and believe in you, we will never die. Help me to hear you calling me by name, and lead me to leave my tomb to take on everlasting life. 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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