St Matthews Digital
What do we mean by?
01 November 2015
In this All Saints’ Day sermon Helen Jacobi unpacks the story of Lazarus - unbind him and let him go
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Lazarus was brother to Martha and Mary. They were family. They grew up together. Jesus knew them. Well, he stayed with them often they were close families. Friendships the stuff of Life, me reset. Once at the feet of Jesus, to listen and to learn and Martha complained to Jesus and said, tell her to come and help me in the kitchen. Jesus declined. Because He was happy to teach Mary.
When word came to Jesus, that his friend Lazarus was Ill. He didn't seem too concerned nor did he hurried to his bedside, hardly, the actions of a friend.
And so when he finally does arrive Lazarus is dead, and buried, Mary is angry with the with him. If you had been here, my brother would not have died.
And Jesus Weeps.
And is Disturbed and spirit.
What does that mean? He's Disturbed in spirit, he's upset. He sobs. He weeps Jesus at his most human.
But some of the crowd scoff at him, he opened the eyes of the blind man. Could he not have stopped this man from dying. And so he goes to the tomb and tells them to roll away the Stone from the entrance to the cave.
Martha Eva the Practical one points out that it might be a little bit smelly.
But somewhere here Jesus is no longer the human Jesus, the friend weeping, he becomes Jesus Christ, the son of God and John weaves those two parts of Jesus together in the story.
And Jesus says, Lazarus come out.
How did the crowd react, gasps, scoffing, still, maybe perhaps a fearful silence.
And Lazarus comes out and he's wrapped up in the grave cloths. Perhaps wrapped up like an Egyptian. Mummy and Jesus says unbind him. Let him go unbind him.
On this All Saints Day When We Gather to remember our loved ones and to mourn them. What use is the reading to us about Jesus, raising someone from the dead? What are we supposed to do with that? It all seems far too fanciful.
And what about the people that we love? Who died? Too young? What about them?
On our list of names that will be reading during the Eucharist today. I know there are names of children and young people.
What was so special about Lazarus? What about our brothers and sisters and friends whom we weep for? What about them?
What was so special about Lazarus?
Unbind him and let him go.
Why does John give us the story? Well, there is the Tome. There is a stone, which has to be rolled away days. Have passed there are grave clothes, left behind. And the women are there, is this about Jesus own death and Resurrection.
Well, it might be.
But I'm drawn back to those words, unbind him. It's the same word used by John the Baptist. When he says, I'm not worthy to stoop down and untie the thong of his sandals. So unbind, him could simply mean untying entire not untie the grave cloths.
Unbind him is also the same word used for the promise to Peter. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven and whatever you bind on Earth will be bound in heaven and whatever you loose on Earth will be loosed in heaven.
Peter was being given power and control over life itself. Whose sins would be forgiven and who would be set free?
The unbinding word is the same word used when Jesus heals a woman crippled with a disability and is criticized for it because he heals on the Sabbath. And he sees ought not this woman, a daughter of Abraham whom Satan Bound for eighteen. Long years, be set free from this bondage on the Sabbath day.
People set free from sin, people set free from bondage, people set free from what binds them.
Unbind him unbind her. Let her go.
So, the raising of Lazarus, certainly Echoes the resurrection of Jesus.
But it's more than Lazarus being raised.
It's about being set free.
And so today we come to remember our loved ones and to mourn them and we come to be set free.
What is it that binds you.
What are the grave cloths that are holding you down? Holding you back?
It might be grief.
It might be resentment. It might be disappointment, it might be fatigued, it might be violence, it might be someone else. Controlling your life. All of those things are like the Shroud that the prophet Isaiah spoke of the Shroud that is cast over all the peoples a shroud of death and fear which can darken our sky.
And the things that bind us are not just personal fears, but World issues as well, poverty violence, racism.
We are all bound tight and our grave clothes.
And it seems that death haunts us at every turn and in many guises.
But one writer says, as followers of Jesus we cannot save death and dying for the end of our Lives.
As followers of Jesus, we don't save death and dying for the end of our lives.
He's talking about what Paul says in his letter to the Romans. Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ? Jesus were baptized into his death. Therefore, we have been buried with him by baptism into death so that just as Christ was raised from the dead. So we too might walk in newness of life.
Our baptism service says, we thank you that through the waters of baptism. You cleanse us, renew our spy, your spirit and raise us to New Life.
So, everyday in our lives as Christians, we stare death in the face.
We experience death and the loss of our loved ones and we experience death and all the things in this world, which dehumanize US and diminish us from the global to the personal.
So why do we bother? Why do we carry on?
Because Jesus calls us to stand up and walk out of the Grave. We rise every day from the Waters of baptism and claim our freedom we hold out our arms. As he unwind unwinds, those grave wrappings and sets us free.
James wall writing in the Christian Century. Some years ago, said death is part of God's plan of course, but there's no reason to accept it without protest.
We claim life everyday. We claim life in the face of death and we can claim life because Jesus has been there before us Lazarus and Martha and Mary have been there before us.
Jesus wept Mary and Martha whipped. It wasn't a game or a pratense. It was real, they wept and they suffered and they knew pain and sorrow.
Lazarus. Come out.
Unbind him and let him go.
Can we hear those words for ourselves and know that they are spoken to each of us?
Can we Embrace Life with confidence knowing that God is with us and loves us and weeps with us?
We respond to that call of God, each week in our liturgy in different ways. And the Eucharistic prayer, which were using today, which is a little more traditional than our usual liturgy. We're going to say Glory To You.
Lord Christ your death, we show forth. Your Resurrection, we Proclaim your coming, we await our men, come Lord, Jesus.
Those words stare death in the face and walk right out of the grave.
And Alice G that we've been using these last few weeks we say Jesus throat, threw open the doors of Freedom, casting out the darkness of our hearts and there's that tears a chart that we often sing before communion love triumphs over fear.
Those words in our various liturgies are all about. What? What we bring bound up to the table and then what unbinds us, and sets us free.
How do we live out those words which send us out and freedom from the table? How do we live out the resurrection that we celebrate as we eat bread and sip wine?
Well, we live out those words by living Our Lives of faith.
By caring for a partner who is dying.
By walking with our friends who have lost a child.
By bringing hope and laughter to someone who has no laughter of Their Own.
By cooking and mowing lawns and sharing cups of coffee.
By protesting and lamenting and saying to God. This is so wrong.
And believing in God anyway.
As followers of Jesus, we cannot save death and dying for the end of our lives.
We walk free from the tomb of death every day.
So he a Jesus calling you out.
Unbind him and let him go unbind her and let her go.
Because those words are spoken to each of you.