Summary: The Christian response to disaster and grief as modeled by Jesus.

The World Trade Center...the Murrah building in

Oklahoma City...Columbine High school...

The list of names that fill the obituary columns daily...

We try not to notice. But sometimes you can’t help but

notice...when the tragedy is as big as the New York skyline

or as close as the passing of a loved one. There is always

that awkward “I don’t know what to say” feeling that

causes us to send flowers instead of placing a phone call.

But, as awkward as it is, perhaps I could entice you to join

me at yet another funeral this morning...

The air is arrid and dusty. You can’t help but notice how

unbearably hot the soles of your feet grow -- as we walk

together down this well-worn, heavily traveled highway

between Jericho and Jerusalem... It wouldn’t be so bad

except that the we are travelling up-hill. Climbing out of

sea-level with every tiring step.

The Jericho Road.

You hear someone pant, “Why doesn’t someone pave this

road...Would make for much easier walking..” Another

answers gruffly, “We don’t need no Roman Road.”

It seems as if we are going to walk all the way to Jerusalem

as we come to the foot of the Mount of Olives...

stopping at a crossroads.

You look up -- almost straight up --toward the top of the

mount -- . Your feet ache at the thought of climbing that

last leg to the top-- not sure if you’ll last. And even if you

make it to the refreshing decline on the other side that leads

into the Kidron Valley -- You don’t know if you’ll make it

up that last short climb to the great walled-city.

But here, at the crossroad, a cool wave of relief washes over


While you’re shaking the sand and rocks from your

sandals-- you realize that the group leader is heading east

now-- away from that horrible climb...down...down to the

town of Bethany.

For the first time your mind is off your burning feet and and

aching calves -- and you can concentrate on what is going

on around you. Not as many Roman soldiers and foreigners

on this road... A lot more kinsmen...many

merchants...caravans of families...and several animals...but

even with these --traffic is not as heavy as it was on the

Jericho Road...

We are not even close enough to the town to hear the bustle

of the community when you notice a woman walking

quickly toward our company....As she nears -- you see her

face caked with soot and dust...Her clothes rent and torn in

the appropriate places at the appropriate lengths -- for a

person in mourning...

After a brief conversation with your group leader she

re-enters the town...only to return shortly with another

woman at her side...

A brief exchange of words and now we are heading into


As we near the tombs -- whitewashed in limestone -- you

can hear flutes and the sound of psalms pouring out from

the broken hearts of the see faces you

recognize --friends, relatives, some

acquaintances...Everyone dotted with ash and dust from

head to foot... Everone wailing with strained voices and

tear-soaked faces...but the loudest are the ones you don’t

recognize... the professional mourners....

“O Lazarus! Blessed Lazarus! May you rest in Abraham’s

bosom! Blessed Lazarus! O Lazarus!”

It is sobering, to say the least, as you watch your own loved

ones covered in ash beating their chests... wailing in

gut-wrenching sorrow...broken in grief...especially Mary --

her torment gushes from within so powerfully -- her body

heaves with every draining wail -- trembles with every gasp

for air.

But your heart stops -- as you turn to one side -- turning

directly into the face of Jesus... Looking full into those

tear-drenched, swollen eyes of God... sobbing...

sobbing in uncontrollable heart-break as he looks on Mary.

A man of sorrow...acqainted with grief...The sorrowing --

suffering Savior...

Jesus wept.

Most of you will remember how the story goes -- for those

who are unfamiliar with it -- it has a wonderful ending.

Over top of all those other human voices crying out the

name of Lazarus -- only to the voice of one man do the

dead respond... Only one man...One voice...One authority.

“Lazarus! Come Forth!”

Lazarus lived again.

Thanks a lot Jesus! What am I supposed to do with this?

My friends....relatives....friends of my relatives are


Lord, they’ve just lost their children to angry, bitter young

men with pipe-bombs and sub-machine guns...All within

the safety of a 10’ chain link fence...the parameters of

school zone signs...over watched by dozens of adult

supervisors and educators.

Lord, the tornado just ripped that 3 month old baby from its

mother’s arms...

Lord, she carried the child 9 months...the nursery is all

prepared...Noah’s Ark on the wall...Stuffed animals in the

crib..pretty pink trim and satin lace...But that precious little

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