Tuesday, March 04, 2008

being real, and letting it set you free

I'm sorry for my absence these past two weeks; I got consumed by other things, mostly the departure of my husband whose service in the Army Reserves requires a second deployment to Iraq.  My priorities have been turned on savoring time with him, and I let the blog go.

I think Jesus would have felt my pain.  This week's scripture, the story of Lazarus being raised from death, gives us a glimpse of his own grief in the midst of loving human relationship.  "Jesus wept," or so one translation of this famous-for-its-brevity verse goes.

This year, I'm especially touched by this reminder of Jesus' humanity--he felt the pain we experience in the finite nature of human life.  

And yet, he dares us to see beyond.

The story we'll read this week ends with one of my favorite images: having just (loudly) called Lazarus back to life and out of his tomb, Jesus then commands others to "unbind him, and let him go."  

What a bizarre scene--so filled with the details of the experience of human life and death.  Martha, always the practical one of Lazarus's sisters, warns Jesus about how much dying stinks.  Literally.  And yet, even out of the stench and the tears of death, Jesus calls us into life, and invites us to be unbound.

It is as if Jesus is preparing us for what's to come through his own death and resurrection.  This week's story is an odd foreshadowing, but really will be nothing like Jesus' resurrection.  After all, Lazarus is simply called back to human life as a delay of the death of his body.  Jesus resurrection doesn't postpone his own death--it transforms it completely.

But we can only begin to be ready for that transformation if we start to loosen ourselves up--and allow ourselves to be startled out of the troubles and grief we find ourselves enmeshed in.  We need to be ready for something completely beyond what we expected.  

Jesus is showing us that he's a part of something mind-blowing.

AND YET, he's human.  Weeping along with the others.  Feeling the pain of the frailty of life.  And, even as he grieves, points us elsewhere, toward amazing possibilities.  (It would be so much easier to just retreat into a self-protecting mode, wouldn't it?)

Jesus calls us to unbind Lazarus, and let him go.  I pray that we will all have the daring hope--even in the face of human pain--to let the Holy Spirit go, and bring mind-blowing grace into our midst.


Fudo'ki said...

Hello Molly. I am Arthur Fields memebr of the church and very fond of the vespers service. Hearing the service today reminded me of the glory of Jesus, his Human frailty and caring for a dear friend eventhough he was on a mission from God. However, I was wondering if the story is also a metaphor for those embracing Jesus Christ Our Lord Savior. I have heard the term Born aagin Christain many times from various sect of Christains. My Question is: Is there only one rebirth or many rebirths over time? I have read about the hindu concept of reincarnation, I found it very depressing and a journey I do not want to take, I think we have one life to live and dedicate our life to Jesus, not that I want to be a preacher but I do want to have a understanding of one. Since God is a living God we go threw life changes and ups and downs. Personally I feel like I have been reborn again in Christ many times and getting closure to doing the will Jesus more and more as I grew older. Anyway, can you elaborate on this metaphor I am pondering?

molly said...

I love your question, Arthur. It's complicated and beautiful, I think.

I also love the metaphor of being born again and again and again--I think of it a bit like what John Wesley described as "going on to Christian perfection"--that is, that faith is this ongoing journey in which we become "perfected." That is, we get remade and remade as we get closer and closer to doing God's will in our lives. And, my experience is that this growth-in-faith comes along with lots of experiences of grace that feel like new life and new birth.

That said, I don't want to jump too far into understanding this new birth as like reincarnation--I also think that you only need to be baptized once, and that it marks a new birth and new identity that can never be taken away.

So, I guess my answers is "yes" to both--there is one rebirth, and we experience it over and over again. ;)

What do you think?