Fifth Week of Lent: Tell Them They Can Live Again
This reflection is part of a series of Lenten reflections from United Methodist Women members and Women’s Division staff to accompany you to Easter. See other reflections.
John 11:1-44, Ezekiel 37:1-14
Young people today are looking death squarely in the face. At no other time in history have young people been so vulnerable to criminal activity, incarceration, sexual abuse, homicide, suicide, unemployment, poverty, lack of health care and homelessness.
These incidences and risk factors are leading young people to despair and death. But young people are worthy of our attention (and intention) to hope, advocate and intervene on their behalf for a resurrected life through the restorative power of Jesus Christ.
When Mary and Martha sent word to Jesus about the sickness of their brother Lazarus, Jesus sent word back to them that their brother’s sickness would not end in death (John 11:1-4). But when Lazarus died, Mary and Martha, on two different occasions as they grieved their loss, said to Jesus when he arrived in their hometown, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” (John 11:21, 32)
To Martha, Jesus responded with a message of hope, “Your brother will rise again. … I am the resurrection and the life.” (John 11:23-25)
With Mary and the community of faith who mourned with her, Jesus intervened and asked, “Where have you laid him?” After arriving at Lazarus’ tomb, Jesus called the community of faith to “take away the stone.” They acted. Then Jesus prayed and, with great authority, called Lazarus forth. In the final stage of his plan, Jesus called the community of faith to action again in John 11:44, “Unbind him and let him go.”
The word “death” means the irreversible end of life. But Lazarus’ condition (death) was reversed because his community of faith got involved when Jesus called them to action.
God is calling the community of faith to act on behalf of its members. In Ezekiel’s vision of a grave filled with dry bones, God asked Ezekiel, “Can these bones live?” (Ezekiel 37:3)
God answered his own question by telling Ezekiel to prophesy to the bones, “I will cause breath to enter you, and you shall live.“ (Ezekiel 37:5)
Like the exiled Israelites in Ezekiel 37:11, young people often say, “Our bones are dried up, and our hope is lost; we are cut off completely.” But just as God called Ezekiel to speak words of life over the Israelites, God is calling the household of faith to prophesy restoration to young people – that their graves will open, and they will be lifted out, so they can live again.
Oh God, cause us to remember it is your Spirit, through Jesus Christ, that gives life. Amen.