Fifth Sunday In Lent
April 6, 2014
Pastor Ronald T. Glusenkamp
From Darkness to Light
Grace to you from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
Ann Weems writes in her book, Psalms of Lament:
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.
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 had Sylvia Farley Becker’s funeral yesterday. On Monday we have a service for Dorathy Jordahl. On Tuesday it will be the service of Neil Krueger. So, in this space of four days, three funerals and then of course, this gospel lesson about the funeral cancellation, or “reverse funeral if you will.” Added to that is our theme for this week of “Darkness to Light” and of course, the “reverse offering” SPRING FORTH that the Foundation is doing today. So, in just a few moments the full offering plates will be passed and instead of putting an envelope in the offering plate full of money, you are asked to take an envelope full of money out of the plate. Next you are to SPRING FORTH with some way to “grow that money.” Wild, crazy, upside down stuff happening here today. It is, as Ann Weems directs our attention, “If you watch, you will see the hand of God putting the stars back in their skies, one by one.”
Good friend Peter Mayer sings,
“What if Love was a shepherd’s eye
Could see one lost for the ninety nine
And Faith and hope were a tiny seed
That could bloom into a family tree
I’ve believed betrayed swayed and discussed
Still I feel like a wrapped up Lazarus
Haven’t made sense of the Mystery
But it makes sense to me
And I’m Still in One Peace
Still in One Peace
We are blessed we are broken
Every day a chance to be
One together again”
Still in One Peace by Peter Mayer
Just the other day, Friday it was, I was having lunch with former Bishop Allan Bjornberg and he asked me if I had my sermon done for Sunday. I said, “No, got any suggestions?” And so he said, “Well I think that often when we preach about this story we do it from outside the tomb. But lately, I’ve been talking about it from inside the tomb.” And just like that it came to me, “from Darkness to Light.” And he is so right, of course. It’s about being in the darkness, the stone cold silence, sealed in, the life sucked out of oneself. This is what death looks like, except for the fact that when you are dead, you can’t see it, you can’t feel it, you can’t smell it, you can’t do anything. Because you simply can’t for the plain and simple fact that you AREN’T anymore!
But, then as the gospel story tell us -
43When Jesus had said this, he cried with a loud voice, "Lazarus, come out!" 44The 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.45Many of the Jews therefore, who had come with Mary and had seen what Jesus did, believed in him.
Jesus, who wept and still weeps, called his friend Lazarus to “Spring Forth.” And to everyone’s surprise probably most of all, Lazarus, he came out. But, even though he is the recipient of this miraculous thing, he’s still not yet free.
“Still I feel like a wrapped up Lazarus”
Jesus told the crowd to “unbind him” and they did. Lazarus has gone “from Darkness to Light.”
Some folks today suggest that the role and mission of the church is to help take off the “death clothes”, the bindings that people have wrapped around them. I find that a particularly compelling call, (if not also a particular smelly and somewhat distasteful job as well.) For it has been four days since he died. This is one day over the limit. The body has been changing and decaying. But you know, if the church won’t do this work, who on earth do you think will do it? If you and I won’t get involved when Jesus commands us to “unbind them” who do you think is going to do it? That’s right, no one; it’s not gonna happen.
Peter Mayer sings,
“We are blessed we are broken
Every day a chance to be
One together again”
Right now, I’m asking the ushers to come forward and pass these plates out. The Foundation has set aside $5,000 to “give away” so that you might SPRING FORTH. It’s symbolical but it’s also sacramental. We like to say, a sacrament is GOGG - a “Gift of God’s Grace.” We like to say, PEA - “there is a physical element attached.” We like to say CBC - “Commanded by Christ” which it is. It’s SWAP – “Sign with a Promise.”
God bless you as you take this journey “from Darkness to Light.” SPRING FORTH.