This last segment of the story is, I believe, very instructive for us on this All Saints Sunday. It reminds us all that the restoring to life of Lazarus is not only the work of Jesus, but also requires the cooperation of the faith community. It is the faith community who roll the stone of the tomb away. It is also the faith community who unwrapped Lazarus from his grave-clothes. So too, we are who we are as the Church today not because we have made it on our own. Rather, we are who we are today as a people of faith because of the legacy of faith that we have inherited from our ancestors in the faith. There is not a soul here today, I believe, who has not, somewhere along life’s journey been deeply influenced by the life of the saints who have gone before us. Whether it’s our parents, grandparents, our neighbours and friends, our Sunday School or other teachers, our pastors or other leaders in the Church—we’ve all benefited from the life and influence of saints. In fact, the saints who influenced us have been the very presence of Christ in our lives.
In our world today, we can all too easily smell the “stench” of death. Death in the fast-paced lives that we live. Death in our obsession with “making it” no matter what, even if that means selling our very souls. Death in the prevalent values of consumerism, materialism, and individualism, which exploit people and the world’s resources without any limits. Death in our hunger and thirst for entertainment, which promotes violence as the means to solving life’s problems. The list could go on almost endlessly. Thank God that through Jesus and with the help of the communion of saints we are able to live a new, death-free life! We are called by Jesus to unbind the death-clothes of this world and set people free to live a life of love and abundance in Christ. Amen.
1 Cited from: Pulpit Resource, Vol. 25, No. 4, Year B & C, October, November, December 1997 (Inver Grove Heights, MN: Logos Productions Inc., 1997), p. 21.
2 Cited from: Wm. Barclay, The Daily Bible Study: The Gospel of John, Volume 2 Chapters 8-21 (Burlington, ON: G.R. Welch Co. Ltd., 1975), pp. 96ff.