The In-Between

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5 Lent 2017

Romans 8:6-11; John 11:1-45

God of all consolation and compassion,your breath alone brings life to dry

bones and weary souls.  Pour out your Spirit upon us, that we may face our

own weeping and lamenting with the hope of resurrection and faith in the One

who called Lazarus forth from the grave. Amen.

True to our human nature not so many of us like the unknown.  We want answers and we want them now thank you very much.  But this is not the case with this Jesus who is resurrection and who is life.  He is living with the in-between time

of ministry and Passion.  This final “I am” saying in the gospel of John is the culmination of both ministry and miraculous.  There will be no more of this for him

or for us.

The phrase ‘Samhain’ means the thin time between worlds.  Often used by Celtic ancestors it is the time of the year when one could look into the afterlife and visa versa.  A time that happens rarely and never if one is not mindful.  It is doubtful Jesus ever knew this phrase but he is living it.   And we are with him on this 5th Sunday of Lent.  We are in between Lent and Easter for next week we enter into his passion and into our own week of preparation for sorrow and for death.

We humans want answers yet both our gospel and our epistle do not give that.

There is the promise of the ‘not-yet’ that is present in both these readings and we realize God’s realm is operative now, but our gospel makes us wait.

Liberation theology is a good example.  Born out of the longing of Central American people for God to relieve them of their suffering, liberation theology is that in-between state of the not-yet.  A promise of freedom known in the heart yet to be realized in the body.

Frederick Douglass knew of such a longing.  As he became more self-educated

the longing for physical freedom exerted itself until he had to find a way for that reality. His was the prophetic call for personal and social transformation for slaves

and slave-owners alike.  Yet he was ever living in the in-between state of inner truth aligned with outer reality.  They often do not happen at the same time.

And it was true for Jesus and for Lazarus.  Lazarus hears the voice of Jesus calling to him and he responds by coming forth from the tomb.  He has been dead four days, which in the Jewish belief means there was no hope of the soul being reunited with the body.  Supposedly the soul remained around the dead body

for three days and then left for the next world.  Four days would seal the fate.

The inner reality for Lazarus was death beyond question.  The outer reality for him was life; yet a life that would eventually die again.  The inner reality for Jesus was to keep on giving keep on teaching these disciples; the outer reality was his upcoming trial and crucifixion.

In a passage just before the raising of Lazarus the high priest, Caiphas, makes a telling statement.  Would it not be better for one man to die for the people than to have the whole nation destroyed?  There are continual uprisings against Rome

in and around Jerusalem; many are proclaiming Jesus as the promised Messiah.

And Caiphas, acknowledging this, puts Jesus execution in motion.  Kill the one to save the all.  Little does Caiphas know that what he is about to do will be exactly that.

We are part of this unfolding drama as we hear Jesus call Lazarus from the tomb

with the voice of “I am the resurrection and the life.”  We hear that voice this day

even as we all continue to life in our own ‘Samhain’ time frame.  The Spirit of God urges us ever into the realm of the future coming upon us now.  The Spirit brings us ever closer to the presence of holiness and possibilities.  Yet we live in the temporal, the mode of suffering and frustration with life even as we wait and hope for God’s final redemption that will become ours.  This is not an easy way to live.

Yet as Lazarus was unbound to live again so we too hear the voice of Jesus

that we be unbound from our sorrows.  As Jesus was ever reminding his disciples

faith is not dependent upon sight.  Seeing may lead to believing but it is not a necessity.  So as we live this in-between time, our task to live the life God has called us to is to believe even when we cannot see or trust.  We do not know what tomorrow or the next hour will bring, but neither did Lazarus.  He was not expecting such a change; he was good and dead.  As Jesus is resurrection and life for him

so he is for us.  We live into that resurrection knowing we do not know all, realizing we cannot experience resurrection until we have experienced death.  And whether that mean physical death or death of a dream, Jesus calls for us to be unbound

from that which would keep us from being really and truly free to live the unknown and unexpected moments of life.  Amen.

The In-Between