Sunday, April 6, 2014

Reconciliation and Remembering

Today was not an easy day.  The readings for this Sunday included the death and raising from the dead of Lazarus and the valley of the dry bones from Ezekiel.  OK, neither of those are inherently tough readings, and actually they embody much hope in the redeeming works of God.  I should be left with a sense that God will reconcile and remember us always.  He will bring us to new life and lift us up out of the pit.  I've written about that take on the raising of Lazarus in a reflection on the words to "unbind him."

But today, as I listened to that Gospel lesson, the one I identified with the most in the story was Martha.  Her grief touched my own, and I reflected upon her situation.  Her brother is dead.  He'd fallen ill and she had really believed that if Jesus had arrived a few days earlier, all this would have been just a bad dream.  But things didn't work out that way.  I heard in Martha those opening words of our psalm from this morning:

"Out of the depths have I called to you, O Lord; Lord, hear my voice; let your ears consider well the voice of my supplication."

This is how I have felt over the past two months.  Out of the depths, I have called out to God: "Hear my voice!"  I have had moments of thinking that I wanted to tell my mom something, or get her input on an idea.  And that's when I am reminded that she's gone, and she's been gone to me, in that way, since March 27, 2013.  There wasn't a whole lot that she could offer me over the phone any more, and "So so so" didn't mean much without being able to see her facial expression.  But death puts an end to even the opportunity to have her smile and pat my hand.

Another part of the Gospel story also rang true to my own experience.  Martha went out to meet Jesus.  Last week, after the blind man was tossed out of his synagogue, Jesus went to meet him, an illustration of how Jesus will seek after us.  Today, however, Jesus hasn't quite arrived to the house and Martha has gone to him.   She wails to him her fervent cry of "Why? Why did this happen? Why did you delay? Where the hell were you when he needed you?!?!"  

I have been in this space, too.  I have found that I have actively sought out Christ to complain about everything from my sorrow at my mom's death to a constant plea of "Help Me!" every time I encounter another person who hasn't heard that she's dead and they innocently ask, "How's your mother?"  As I have mentioned before, Jesus seems to be the only one who totally gets the pain and the anguish in my heart.  He is the only one who knows how to sit shiva with those who weep and mourn.  And, just as with Martha, he is the one who is reminding me, "I am resurrection and I am life."  Yesterday in Morning Prayer, we read the story of Exodus with Moses and the burning bush.  We know that the name of God, as told to Moses, is "I am."  So, it seems to me, that God is resurrection; God is life.  Belief in God by believing that Jesus speaks as one who is completely at one with the One serves not only to unbind Lazarus; it will free Martha, her sister Mary, and me, as well.

Lord, I believe. Help me with my unbelief.


No comments: