Updated: Apr 3, 2020
Today’s message is different. I can’t say that I ever imagined I would deliver a Sunday service from my kitchen but that’s what this week in the midst of COVID 19 has brought me. At times these past few days I have felt a bit unwell and am choosing to just do the responsible thing and stay home. But I am so grateful for ZOOM and connecting online with others. We wonder how long this will be our new reality. I am doing my best to find new appreciations for just being at home and when I’m not doing work activities, I am finding new hobbies like reading the newspaper, trying my hand at crossword puzzles, getting out my paints, and even digging in my fridge and cupboard and using up things that I have on hand rather than popping out to the store like I often would do. That’s where my idea for lemonade came from… making the best out of what I already had… my last lemon.
Seeing the positive of this virus is hard work. Right now the news isn’t very encouraging. And you too may be wondering what toll this will take not only on our physical health but our emotional wellbeing as well. We have loved ones in our families, friends and neighbors who will struggle to maintain their jobs and have enough work. Maintaining our mental health is vitally important also. I lament these concerns right along with you this morning.
Our Pastoral Care committee has been busy these past days and will continue to reach out to our congregation in the weeks that are to come. The best thing we can do right now is to stand in witness and solidarity with one another. To talk out our concerns, our worries. Its’ so very easy to say when asked how we are doing with the words, “I’m fine”.
But please do not hesitate to reach out if you need to talk through what you’re feeling and your experiences.
In our reading for this morning from John’s gospel, we hear of grievous situation in the lives of a family from Bethany. A beloved brother is dying… help is needed, is called for….and it doesn’t come. Or at least not in the way the sisters of a sick man had hoped for. Jesus was a dear and close friend to Mary, Martha, and Lazarus and was known to frequent their home as a guest and enjoy their hospitality. But Lazarus is gravely ill. The sisters put the call out for Jesus to come and save dear Lazarus before it’s too late. But Jesus doesn’t come. Jesus purposely stays away.
If this story isn’t a disappointment, I don’t know what is. I suppose it shows the humanity of Jesus and he too was capable of not showing up just like the rest of us. What I do think is interesting in this passage is what happens in Jesus’ absence. The biblical account tells of the community coming to the aid of Mary and Martha in their time of need. Friends, neighbors, extended family would have come to do the daily chores of looking after the animals, bringing meals and casseroles, being present to their grief. When Jesus does arrive four days later, the sisters are disappointed by his tardiness and to add insult to injury, he seems to have all the answers. He calls Lazarus out of the grave, and out Lazarus comes, alive and well once again. What if anything can we make of this? We know that our deceased loved ones are not going to be walking out of the cemetery and showing up at the dinner table any time soon. But why this passage is meaningful for me today, in the midst of self-isolation and distancing is that it reminds me of what can be made possible out of seemingly impossible circumstances. For me, this is the resurrection moment and opportunity. To be a community that continues to show up in the best ways we know how… not perfect ways…we can’t solve one another’s problems nor have secret powers to make our troubles disappear. But we can stand in witness to one another through this dark time.
Be kind to one another, be safe, try your best to make lemonade out of the lemons you have been given. And know that we are all in this together. The things that are most important are going to rise to the top, the rest of it is just stuff and it will get sorted. I remind myself of this repeatedly. Help will be there. Reach out; don’t emotionally isolate from one another. May the Spirit’s breath continue enliven us…to raise us up through our dread, our fears, our physical and emotional limitations as this virus keeps us apart. For in these experiences may we find our resurrection moments.
Amen and Amen.