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You Are My Witnesses: A Spiritual Journey for the Fifth Sunday of Lent

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Editor’s Note: Missio Alliance is partnering with eleven:28 Ministries to provide Lenten meditations entitled “You Are My Witnesses: A Spiritual Journey from Ash Wednesday to Easter,” by Amy Bost Henegar. These reflections began on Ash Wednesday, and are available on Sundays starting the second Sunday in Lent, culminating on Easter. We invite you to set aside 10 minutes or so to move through the meditation below. You can listen to the podcast versions here and/or read along with the edited transcription below. We are grateful to eleven:28 for sharing this resource with the Missio Alliance community and pray that it helps you in your Lenten journey this year.


Remind yourself you are in God’s presence.

Notice how God may be speaking to you today.

Let yourself dwell on a word or phrase that catches your attention or moves your heart.

Let your heart respond to God in prayer.

***

Please repeat these words:

Open my heart to you Lord

And my mouth will declare your praise

***

Take a minute to notice your breath

Notice how God is breathing life into you at this very moment.

You are right now, in this moment, receiving the gift of breath.

As you inhale, feel the energy of God lift you up, and as you exhale return to gravity, in grounded vocation of service in this world.

Just rest in this space for a moment. Observing your breath, offering your thoughts and feelings to God without trying to control or change anything.

A Reading from John 11

There was a certain man named Lazarus, who was sick. He and his sisters, Mary and Martha, were from the village of Bethany. The sisters sent this message to Jesus:  “Rabbi, the one you love is sick.” When Jesus heard this, he said, “This sickness will not end in death; it is happening for God’s glory, so that God’s Only Begotten may be glorified because of it.” Jesus loved these three very much.

When Jesus arrived in Bethany, he found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb for four days. Since Bethany was only about two miles from Jerusalem, many people had come out to console Martha and Mary about their brother. When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went to meet him, while Mary stayed at home with the mourners.

When she got to Jesus, Martha said, “If you had been here, my brother would never have died! Yet even now, I am sure that God will give you whatever you ask.”

“Your brother will rise again!” Jesus assured her.

Martha replied, “I know he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.”

Jesus told her, “I am the Resurrection, and I am Life: those who believe in me will live, even if they die; and those who are alive and believe in me will never die. “Do you believe this?”

“Yes!” Martha replied. “I have come to believe that you are the Messiah, God’s Only Begotten, the One who is coming into the world.”

When she had said this, Martha went back and called her sister Mary. “The Teacher is here, asking for you,” she whispered. As soon as Mary heard this, she got up and went to him. Jesus hadn’t gotten to the village yet. He was at the place where Martha had met him. Those who were there consoling her saw her get up quickly and followed Mary, thinking she was going to the tomb to mourn. When Mary got to Jesus, she fell at his feet and said, “If you had been here, Lazarus never would have died.” When Jesus saw her weeping, and the other mourners as well, he was troubled in spirit, moved by the deepest emotions. “Where have you laid him?” Jesus asked. “Come and see,” they said. And Jesus wept.

The people in the crowd began to remark, “See how much he loved him!” Others said, “He made the blind person see; why couldn’t he have done something to prevent Lazarus’ death?”

Jesus was again deeply moved. They approached the tomb, which was a cave with a stone in front of it. “Take away the stone,” Jesus directed. Martha said, “Rabbi, it has been four days now. By this time there will be a stench.” Jesus replied, “Didn’t I assure you that if you believed you would see the glory of God?” So they took the stone away.

Jesus raised his eyes to heaven and said, “Abba, thank you for having heard me. I know that you always hear me, but I have said this for the sake of the crowd, that they might believe that you sent me!” Then Jesus called out in a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!” And Lazarus came out of the tomb, still bound hand and foot with linen strips, his face wrapped in a cloth. Jesus told the crowd, “Untie him and let him go free.” Many of those who had come to console Martha and Mary, and saw what Jesus did, put their faith in him.

Reflection

We know Mary and Martha so well.

If only you had been here. If only. If only.

If only you had been here my brother would not have died.

If only.

Then Jesus says, “I am the Resurrection, and I am the Life.”

I am here even when I’m not because “I am the Resurrection, and I am the Life.”

Can we hear Jesus’s words spoken to us?

Responding to our cry “If only…”

“I am the Resurrection, and I am the Life. Those who believe in me will live, even if they die; and those who are alive and believe in me will never die. Do you believe this?”

Do you?

Do you believe this?

Because believing this transforms everything.

Believing this changes our circumstances, changes our lives.

And Martha said, “Yes! I have come to believe that you are the Messiah, God’s Only Begotten, the One who is coming into the world.”

Can we stand with Martha in the face of tragedy, in the face of heartache, in the face of trauma and disappointment and grief, and say, “Yes, you are the Resurrection and you are the Life”? Can we make this great statement of faith modeled by our sister Martha?

“I have come to believe that you are the Messiah, God’s Only Begotten, the One who is coming into the world.”

Ann Weems, “Psalms of Lament”

Jesus wept,

and in his weeping,

he joined himself forever

to those who mourn.

He stands now throughout all time,

this Jesus weeping,

with his arms about the weeping ones:

“Blessed are those who mourn,

for they shall be comforted.”

He stands with the mourners

for his name is God-with-us.

Jesus wept.

“Blessed are those who weep, for they shall be comforted.” Someday. Someday God will wipe the tears from Rachel’s eyes.

In the godforsaken, obscene quicksand of life,

there is a deafening alleluia

rising from the souls

of those who weep,

and of those who weep with those who weep.

If you watch, you will see

the hand of God

putting the stars back in their skies

one by one

***

We pray today in the name of Jesus who taught us to pray:

Our Father which art in Heaven,

Eternal God, Earth-maker, Pain-bearer, Life-giver,

Source of all that is and that shall be,

Not only Father but Mother of us all,

May the hallowing of your name echo through the universe!

May the way of your justice be followed by the peoples of the world!

May your heavenly will be done by all created beings!

May your commonwealth of peace and freedom sustain our hope and come on earth.

With the bread we need for today, feed us.

In the hurts we absorb from one another, forgive us.

In times of temptation and test, strengthen us.

From trials too great to endure, spare us.

From the grip of all that is evil, free us.

For you reign in the glory of the power that is love, now and forever.

Amen.1

Benediction

Jesus, you are the resurrection and the life.

Lord we believe that you are the Messiah, God’s Only Begotten, the One sent from God.

Lord we believe. Help our unbelief.

Give us hope. Give us life.

Amen.

Until we meet again, Go in peace.


[1] The Lord’s Prayer, adapted from the New Zealand Anglican Book of Common Prayer

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