Thursday, March 17

Sermon 5th Sunday in Lent

(These are the expanded notes from my sermon this past Sunday)
The Resurrection Life

Tonight we hear rumors of resurection in our Scripture Texts. In the depths of lent on the way to the cross we hear talk of life and resurection. A Friend of mine recently said to me that he was seeking to live the resurrection life. Yet, what is this Resurection life? What do all these stories of bones and death and pain have to do with life and resurection. These rumors are not simply about life but a life that is resurected.Resurrection implies death, New life implies an old life. Passing away of the Old. If the resurrection is simply a future state than my friend speaks nonsense, Resurrection and life must be more than simply about our bodily health.

I What is the Resurrection Life, where does it begin?
a) The pslamist give us a clue as he cries "out of the Depths".
b) Ezekiel confronts Dry Bones, the impossibility of life being anywhere found in the piles of human remains, stripped of their flesh, dried up sun bleached bones. Ezekiel does not answer God's question but leaves the answer to God's abilities. Ezekiel knows life does not come from death but he knows the source of life.
c) The story of Lazarus takes us to a a dark tomb, closed off from the world. Jesus lets Lazarus die that we may confront the truth of death and the truth of the power and glory of God.
II God Calls
a) Prophesy, Ezekiel is told, life that comes to the dry bones comes from the Word of God. For resurection there must be death but death is not the source of life, God raises to life that which has no life in it. God brings back to fullness and health that which is merely the remains of life.
b) Not of flesh but the spirit. The resurection life is the leaving behind one life that is death for that life which is true life in God and the Spirit
c) Wind, breath, life, without the spirit without breath there is no life, and so Ezekiel is told to prophesy the spirit, the breath, that the bodies which have been rejuvenated may also be reanimated. We are brought back to life through the Word and the Spirit.
d) "Lazarus Come forth", Jesus Calls. Out of the depths, recognizing our need for god, for the tombs in our life we come to life in Christ, who is "the Resurection and the life."
III A story about Resurrection Life?
The story of Lazarus is full of contradictions and paradoxes. Jesus loves Lazarus and Mary and Martha, but knowingly lets him die, Jesus comes and in face of grief seems less than compassionate, and possibly even angry, and yet also weeps at Lazarus' grave yet knowing what he is going to do in just a moment. Lazarus had to die, that he may know and all may know the source of life. There is no resurection without death, and yet death is not the source of life. Lazarus as a picture of our souls of ourselves, we must die to know true life. The tomb's of our lives must be opened up and the stench of death that still lingers in our lives even though we have come to faith even though we have been baptized and come to new life, death lingers especially if we hide death locked in a tomb. For Lazarus to be raised from the dead the tomb had to be open the reality of death and sin face fully, not purged through intense wailing and expression of grief. If Lent is a type of dying, it is not for the sake of death but for the sake of life that we open ourselves to God and allow him to stand at the open tombs of our lives and cry out Lazarus come forth.
Are we living by the Spirit or the flesh? Do the death clothes still hold us tight, are we up but still bound by death? Yes take up your cross as we move towards Holy week, yes face sin and death in our lives, yes open the tombs let the stench of our sin be in the open. Yet we must not forget that in this is not life but rather we open our lives to God that he may call us to new life. Only by dying to the flesh do we come to life in the Spirit, yet that life does not come from death but from the one who is the resurection and the life. May we hear this evening Jesus calling to us "Lazarus come forth."