I finally finished the picture for the 5th week of Lent Sunday Readings:

I am the Resurrection and the Life

I preached on this, briefly, on Sunday from the comfort of my dining room. It was the first of what will probably become many celebrations of Holy Communion with just me and my husband present physically but many more people present online. I prepared today for the second such celebration in the morning for Palm Sunday.

The sermon last week was based on the gospel of John chapter 11 verses 1-45

 ‘I am the resurrection and the life. Those who believe in me, even though they die, will live, 26 and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die. (Jn 11:25-26)

Very familiar words – I use them every time I conduct a funeral, traditionally as we process into church.  

And funerals at the moment are going to be very strange.  I have various prayers and a card for anyone who isn’t able to attend a funeral so if you are in that situation please contact me. 

The Christian hope is that when we die – and everyone will at some point:  Lazarus did go on to die eventually – we will go to be with God, being held in his love.  The miracle of Lazarus being raised from the dead points us towards Jesus whose death and resurrection will be celebrated at Easter.  His resurrection means that when we put our trust in him and accept the new life he offers, when we die, we will experience resurrection to new life.

Death is something that many people find it difficult to talk about.  And yet, every time we turn on the tele we see the latest figures and we can’t help but wonder what is happening.   We do live in strange, and in many ways, dark times.

Darkness = fear, uncertainty, can’t see the way forward, danger.   You need light to show you where to put your feet next, to get rid of the monsters under the bed.

Jesus said that he is the light of the world, and I’m reminded of the verses from Paul’s letter to the Ephesians that I use almost every day in my morning prayer, along with this picture:


18 I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, 19 and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength 20 he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead.

God’s power is at work in and through us.  Jesus is the Light in our darkness and uncertainty and he is the one who gives us Life in all its fullness.  Eternal Life = a quality of life that knows the peace of God and His presence with us in the here and now. 

As Jesus said to Mary:  do you believe this?   She replied: ‘Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. 22 But even now I know that God will give you whatever you ask of him.’ 

She had faith that Jesus could have saved her brother from dying. She had probably seen him perform miracles before and she was beginning to understand who he is.

Faith like hers, and yours, and mine, takes time to develop.  Faith is a gift from God and the work of the Holy Spirit within us. 

Faith shows itself differently in us:

  • practical – Martha complaining she was doing all the work – lots of ‘Martha’ faith in action in communities J
  • prayerful – Mary – sitting at Jesus’ feet & anointing him with oil – lots of prayer needed at the moment – undergirding the practical. 
  • are you a Martha or a Mary?   Both – emphasis more on one than another – differing in life circumstances

Or perhaps you answered the question, do you believe with a No… I don’t / not sure /  a doubting Thomas ????

Thomas was also there.  He slightly misunderstood Jesus and suggested that they go that they may die with Lazarus. He didn’t fully understand who Jesus was and yet he was loyal and determined to follow him, at all costs. 

And those of you familiar with the Easter story will know that Thomas refused to believe that Jesus had rose to life unless he could see for himself.  The following week Jesus appeared to him to answer his doubts which enabled his faith to change dramatically.  Likewise, our faith can change dramatically or in small steps, as we see God at work in and through others, and indeed experience his answer to our prayers.

We are seeing a lot of faith in action at the moment as communities up and down the country and across the world find new ways of supporting and helping each other.  Great sacrifices of time and energy.

What we are experiencing is, in a way, nothing new.  Throughout time there have always been periods of plague, pestilence, war and famine.  It’s just that our generation haven’t experienced it before.  It is strange, unchartered territory.  But we will get through it.   We will come out the other side.  And I believe we will do so all the better for it as we realise what is really important in life. 

I want to end by saying a prayer that will be very familiar to some of you.  It comes from the traditional Evensong service.  I will change the word night to time.  So as we think of the times we live in as being dark, let us pray:

Lighten our darkness, we beseech thee, O Lord; and by thy great mercy defend us from all perils and dangers of this time; for the love of thy only Son, our Saviour, Jesus Christ. Amen.

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