Our lessons begin with the wonderful story of Ezekiel’s dream of the Valley of Dry Bones. In his dream, Ezekiel hears God tell him that, with God, there is nothing that cannot be done, including returning dry bones to life. The psalm reminds us that we must wait for the Lord to complete his task. The epistle tells us that life is more than breath and pulse; it is the Spirit of God within each of us. John’s gospel is the only gospel to tell the story of Lazarus of Bethany. Upon learning that Lazarus was sick, Jesus chose to delay going to Lazarus’ side so God’s glory could be shown in him. And what was God’s glory? The same that had been told in the Valley of Dry Bones: there is nothing that our God cannot do, including bringing the dead back to life. The great comfort here is, since we are not dead, God can work miracles in us too. Take a few minutes to read the reflection “Lazarus who?” for more about making “these dry bones live”.
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Now a certain man was ill, Lazarus of Bethany, . . . was ill. So the sisters sent a message to Jesus, “Lord, he whom you love is ill.” But when Jesus heard it, he said, “This illness does not lead to death; rather it is for God’s glory, . . ..” Accordingly, . . . he [Jesus] stayed two days longer in the place where he was. Then after this he said to the disciples, “. . . Lazarus is dead. For your sake I am glad I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him.” . . . When Jesus arrived, he found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb four days. . . . When Jesus saw her [Mary] weeping, and the Jews who came with her also weeping, he was greatly disturbed in spirit and deeply moved. . . . Jesus began to weep. . . . Then Jesus, again greatly disturbed, came to the tomb. . . . Jesus said, “Take away the stone.” . . . “Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?” . . . he cried with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!” The dead man came out, his hands and feet bound with strips of cloth, and his face wrapped in a cloth. Jesus said to them, “Unbind him, and let him go.”
sermons4kids: “We all cry, and I am glad that we have a Savior who weeps too. I am glad that He loves us so much that He hurts when we are hurting. He feels our pain.”
Collect: Almighty God, you alone can bring into order the unruly wills and affections of sinners: Grant your people grace to love what you command and desire what you promise; that, among the swift and varied changes of the world, our hearts may surely there be fixed where true joys are to be found; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
Reflection: Why did Jesus weep in John 11:35? Was it out of compassion for Mary and Martha? Out of love for his friend Lazarus? Out of frustration with the people’s lack of understanding or faith? Think about someone in your life who is grieving. Find a way to extend to that person the grace and peace of Christ.
Saint Focus: Only one of the saints in this week’s list is not ordained, so let’s take a look at Mary of Egypt. She ran away from home when she was 12 and lived on her own (offering sexual favors) for 17 years. She traveled to go to a feast held at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre but when she tried to enter the church, an unseen force stopped her. She decided it was because she was impure. After praying for forgiveness, she could enter the church and heard a voice telling her to go live in the desert. Be sure to follow the link below for a greater description. [from the Calendar of the church year according to the Episcopal Church.]
This week, the saints under consideration were :
- 27; Charles Henry Brent, Bishop, 1929
- 28; [James Solomon Russell], Priest, 1935
- 29; John Keble, Priest, 1866
- 30; Innocent of Alaska, Bishop, 1879
- 31; John Donne, Priest, 1631
- Apr 1; Frederick Denison Maurice, Priest, 1872
- 2; James Lloyd Breck, Priest, 1876
- 3; [Mary of Egypt], Hermit & Penitent, c.421 AND Richard of Chichester, Bishop, 1253
Movies/Videos: “Ezekiel’s Vision of the Dry Bones, an interesting YouTube presentation.
image is the cover photo for “Ezekiel’s Vision of the Dry Bones” on YouTube
Preparing for Lent: How many items have you collected: Get a bag to hold your “things”. Each day of Lent, find something that you no longer use and put it in the bag. Then during Holy week, give your bag of things to a local charity. And for the 2nd activity, participate in Lent Madness (Facebook page) or website. Lent Madness is a fun way to learn about the saints of our church. Each day you select one of two saints who you believe is more “worthy” to be a saint. Near Palm Sunday, one of the selected saints will earn the “golden halo”. And “you helped”!
Examine what it means for Jesus to call Lazarus from his grave and then command the crowd to “Unbind him, and let him go.” What does it mean for us to be unbound by Jesus? How can we share this freedom with others—whether in a silly retelling of an amazing story or in deep conversation with a hurting friend?
Excerpted from So It Is website.
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The story of the raising of Lazarus is the final one of the Lenten gospels that opens the minds of the baptismal candidates to the meaning of baptism (and it reminds us of the resurrection life we have already received by water and the Holy Spirit). We hear in this story the growing awareness of the disciples of Jesus as the Christ and as the source of resurrection and life.
The Old Testament reading looks forward to resurrection as the final conclusion of God’s plan of salvation. In the prophet’s vision of the valley of dry bones, note that it is God’s Word who raises them up, and God’s Spirit who gives them flesh and life. So it is with us who are baptized. Christ, the Word of God, and God’s Spirit have given us a share in the resurrection life of God’s Kingdom.
The second reading contrasts those who live in the flesh, that is, the unredeemed world, with those who live in the Spirit of Christ. All baptized persons live in that Spirit and, says Paul, God gives life to our mortal bodies through the Spirit.
The resurrection of Christ becomes our resurrection as we engage in the Eucharistic feast and meet the one who is the Resurrection and the Life.
From The Rite Light: Reflections on the Sunday Readings and Seasons of the Church Year. Copyright © 2007 by Michael W. Merriman. Church Publishing Incorporated, New York.