Summary: Sorry friends - the contents of this sermon means there is no short cut. It's too early to tell you what's in it and you will just have to wait until you read it.
The context for this sermon is this is Passion Sunday 29 March 2020 and this is the second weekend where because of the Corona Virus lockdown, rather than meeting as a physical church we will be meeting online.
When I was little my aunt Mary - well my mum’s aunt - lived in this amazing old house. She lived in what had once been the stables to a vast mansion. It had been converted into a huge house in it’s own right. On the top floor was a pokey little bedroom. Her son was long since grown up. But it had been his room when he was growing up. And it was full of toys from the 1940s. Bagatelle. Marbles. A rocking horse, Lead soldiers. It was a treasure chest - Every time you went in there you found something new.
God’s word is a bit like that. Every time we read the bible there are always new things to discover. Last week when I was preaching to you on Moses in the basket - well until I did my research for that sermon I never knew that the word for the boat baby Moses was “ark” - exactly the same word as the ark which rescued Noah. Everytime you read the bible there is something new to learn. Especially when you focus on the bits of stories that you have not focussed on before.
So let’s focus today on a passage you might not really have read before, or if you have more likely just skimmed through it. Today’s bible story is about…
But before we get to that -
Lines marked out in tape one meter apart. A queue trailing around the block. On Friday morning I took the challenge of doing the Tesco shop. With only so many people allowed in the shop at one time, one in, one out, there was a lot of waiting. Waiting. Reading my kindle. Waiting. Going on my phone. Waiting. Actually it moved faster than I thought - but still waiting
But even before I could go to the shop, I’ve been waiting, putting it off to the last minute- I have been finishing every last thing up in the house.Weird combinations - Lasagne with Brussel Sprouts Stir Fry…. Using up things in the back of the cupboard that might not have been touched for another 6 months - strange flavoured soup I don’t know why I bought: yeah, I’ll have that. Trying to eek things out for as long as possible. Have you had the same experience? Life is unusual at the moment isn’t it?
Which brings us to Today’s bible story.We are going to see if it is going to be a treasure chest like that magic bedroom in my great aunt’s house. Today’s passage is about... You probably know the rest of the chapter but perhaps you don’t know so well the bit we’ll be looking at.
You probably know the happy ending that comes later. Jesus stands in front of the tomb where his friend Lazarus is buried. Jesus says “Take away the stone” “43 When he had said this, he cried with a loud voice, ‘Lazarus, come out!’ 44 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.’ 45 Many of the Jews therefore, who had come with Mary and had seen what Jesus did, believed in him.”
That’s the happy ending to the story. But that’s not today’s bible passage which is about… Today’s bible story….
But of course as well as the happy ending, you may know the sad bit. The bit in the middle which is deeply uncomfortable. Jesus turns up and is greeted by his friends Martha and Mary. They are devastated because they have lost their brother. they try theological platitudes. “Yes I know he will rise again at the last day” They rage at Jesus, “If you had been here [he] would not have died” They are just devastated that their brother is dead. Jesus is devastated too. The shortest verse in the bible John 11:35 “Jesus wept”.
That’s the uncomfortable bit in the middle.
But that’s not today’s bible passage. Today’s bible passage is about…..., yes It’s about: “waiting”.
11 Now a certain man was ill, Lazarus of Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. 2 Mary was the one who anointed the Lord with perfume and wiped his feet with her hair; her brother Lazarus was ill. 3 So the sisters sent a message to Jesus, ‘Lord, he whom you love is ill.’ 4 But when Jesus heard it, he said, ‘This illness does not lead to death; rather it is for God’s glory, so that the Son of God may be glorified through it.’ 5 Accordingly, though Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus, 6 after having heard that Lazarus was ill, he stayed two days longer in the place where he was.