Home meditation March 29,2020

Chilmark Community Church 

March 29, 2020, Fifth Sunday in Lent

Rev. Ernest Belisle, Pastor

 

Opening Prayer:

O God, source of all life, we thank you for your abiding presence.  Sometimes life seems unbearable and we struggle with the burdens of life and death. We try desperately to be in control. Set us free, in mind body and spirit O God, from all our worries and insecurities. Free us now from a wandering mind and a restless heart that we might worship you in spirit and in truth. Renew within us an awareness of who we are as God’s people. May this be a time of new life and new resolution to live in and through the One who came not to be served but to serve.  Amen.

 

Meditation for the Week

Today we give thanks that God is our strength and shield. With the hymn writer Martin J. Nystrom, we can sing:  As the deer pants for the water, so my soul longs after you. You alone are my heart’s desire, and I long to worship you. You alone are my strength, my shield; to you alone may my spirit yield. You alone are my heart’s desire, and I long to worship you.

Our scripture reading for the day assures us that in Christ there is certainty in life and through death. The reading is for the fifth Sunday of Lent in the A Cycle of the Revised Common Lectionary from the Gospel according to St. John’s Gospel chapter 11 verses 1-45.  What an event!  Jesus, having left the Bethany area (near Jerusalem) because of threats on his life received a call to return, from Mary and Martha, because his friend, Lazarus, was extremely ill and near death (corona virus?).  After Lazarus’ death, Jesus decided to return to Mary and Martha, against the advice of his disciples.  When he arrived, Martha scolded him, Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.  Mildly suggesting, why bother to come now that he is dead for three days.  Jesus was genuinely moved, his answer to Martha was, Your brother will rise again… I am the resurrection and the life.  Those who believe in me, even though they die, yet they will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die.  Do you believe this?’’Jesus then went to the tomb (with a group following him) and asked that the stone be rolled away. There were, at first, some objections because of the stench and contamination that would come from the tomb. Eventually, the stone was rolled away and Jesus ordered, in a loud and passionate voice, “Lazarus, come out!” Lazarus came out in the manner in which he was placed in tomb; bound head, hands and feet with burial cloth.  Jesus ordered, “Unbind him, and set him free.”

This is a significant and extraordinary event for many reasons.  Here are a few:

  1. a) That Lazarus was dead for three days makes the point that he was not in a coma; he was really dead. (This is no making believe, it is a spiritual account! The implication is that many are dead and entombed; while there are also those who are out of the tomb but still wrapped in their death cloth.)
  2. b) That Jesus was willing to risk his life and return to the area demonstrates Jesus’ love for his friend. (Jesus risked/gave his life for all the world.)
  3. c) That Jesus was able to raise Lazarus from the dead displayed Jesus’ power over death and the grave. (Jesus/God still has power over spiritual and physical death.)
  4. d) That Jesus ordered himunbound from his death clothreveals Jesus’ desire to set him free from the marks of death to live a new life in Jesus the Christ. (Jesus still orders us unbound from the things that bind us in death and to death.)

To all of us in this time of uncertainty, disease and death may we hear the words of Jesus, “I am the resurrection and the life.  Those who believe in me, even though they die, yet they will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die.  Do you believe this?”… “Unbind him/her, and set him/her free.”

Let us remember that it is in Christ that we find new life spiritually and physically; even in this time of disease and death. We are a people of LIFE.  Hear the words and thought of Cardinal John Henry Newman who advised, “Fear not of death, but fear rather, that when you come to the end of your earthly journey you find out that you never have lived.” Yes, so afraid of death that we never lived – if so our whole earthly sojourn becomes one long morbid journey because of the fear of death, because of a lack of faith and trust in God: the All-Mighty, All Loving, All Powerful God of heaven and earth and the universe. So in these times of lock down and social distancing let us remember to do our best to find life – joy, peace and love in our family, our loved ones and our God.  We journey with Jesus through hardships, sacrifices and even death, from Galilee to Jerusalem and then to new life.

Remember Jesus’ word, “Unbind …set … free!” The scripture reading suggests: Be not bound by death or the fear of death. (Of course, I am not suggesting we discontinue our physical practice of social distancing!) Let us remain spiritually connected through prayer, meditation and thinking of each other.

You, O Christ, are in us, in our hospitals, in our nurses and doctors, in your Church, in your world, and in you we find ‘the resurrection and the life.’

Sincerely,

Your Brother in Christ,

Ernest Belisle (Pastor)

Prayer with you family or alone:

Leader: Be with us O Lord as we pray this prayer.

From the swirling chaos of the primeval waters you brought forth light and life, O Lord.

All: One thing I know, though I be dead as Lazarus, you loved me so much that you brought me back to life, unbound me and set me free to eat and drink, sing and dance with you in your house.

Leader: From the mud of the earth you brought into being one who is intended to see what you see, O Lord.

All: One thing I know, though I be dead as Lazarus, you loved me so much that you brought me back to life, unbound me and set me free to eat and drink, sing and dance with you in your house.

Leader: From my sisters’ prayers and tears for a sick and dying brother you have called my name that I may be a witness to your glorious power, O Lord.

All: One thing I know, though I be dead as Lazarus, you loved me so much that you brought me back to life, unbound me and set me free to eat and drink, sing and dance with you in your house.

 

Pastor: Send forth your Holy Spirit on me and on all your people in ways yet unimagined, that through this time of chaos and confusion we will be opened, and, will see your heart at work in me and in the world. May we not hold back but cry out loudly:

All: You are the Resurrection and the Life, O Christ, my God.

 

Your Personal Prayers:

 

The Lord’s Prayer

Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name.

Thy kingdom come, thy will be done,

On earth as it is in heaven.

Give us this day our daily bread.

And forgive us our trespasses,

As we forgive those who trespass against us.

And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.

For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever. Amen.

 

The Hymn for the day:

         Jesus, Joy of Our Desiring         UMH644

(Martin Janus, 1661; trans. anon.)

 

  1. Jesus, joy of our desiring, holy wisdom, love most bright; drawn by thee, our souls aspiring soar to uncreated light.

Word of God, our flesh that fashioned, with the fire of life impassioned, striving still to truths unknown, soaring, dying round thy throne.

 

  1. Through the way where hope is guiding, hark, what peaceful music

 rings; where the flock, in thee confiding, drink of joy from deathless springs.

Theirs is beauty’s fairest pleasure; theirs is wisdom’s holiest treasure.

            Thou dost ever lead thine own in the love of joys

         unknown.

 

Closing Prayer and Benediction

Love mercy, deal justly, practice patience, and live peacefully with all.  Know that Jesus is our Resurrection and Life; in him we can find new Life in troubled times; in the name of the God our Father and Mother, in the name of the Son Jesus the Christ our Brother, and in the name of the Holy Spirit our Comforter.  Amen.

Benediction:                   Traditional Irish Melody

May the road continue smooth before you;

             May there be enough light along the way;

May peace greet you at every crossroad

             And joy accompany you to the end.

Through whatever pain and suffering is yours to endure,

             Know that God is in it with you.

Amen

Chilmark Community Church

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