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Candle In The Wind

Readings

John 11:17 -44

It was a Thursday evening when I was alone at home, 30 years ago, when the telephone rang. My brother- in-law informed me that their 2-year-old son, Colin my Godson had fallen from a climbing frame in a theme park while they were on holiday on the Isle of Wight. In a coma he had been flown to Southampton Hospital. I can clearly recall the ghastly feeling in my stomach and the feeling of helplessness. Despite many prayers and wonderful medical attention, the machine was turned off 4 days later. Colin had died.

Lord, you are the God who saves me;
day and night I cry out to you.
May my prayer come before you;
turn your ear to my cry.
 (Psalm 88 verses 1 &2)
I guess many of us here have experienced the feeling expressed in the verses above. Although we may know the God who saves us, we cry out before him: our loved ones have been taken from us, and it seems that darkness is our closest friend.

Lazarus, Martha and Mary were not only known to Jesus, they appear to have been close friends - in earlier verses than we read it describes Jesus as loving them, yet when sent for, because Lazarus was clearly very ill, Jesus stayed where he was for two more days, as it appears he wanted to allow Lazarus to die, so that he could perform a miracle and many would see Lazarus come to life again, and perhaps realise that he (Jesus) was the giver of all life.

One can sense the anger in Martha’s voice when she went and met Jesus, “Lord if you had been here my brother would not have died”. Sometimes we feel we shouldn’t express anger when talking to God: I believe it’s right to be real with him and if we are angry to say so! Many of the Psalms have the authors railing towards God – Jesus himself quoting Psalm 22 when later he was dying on the cross: “My God My God, why have you forsaken me”.

Back to today’ passage, Jesus seems to almost ignore Martha’s anger, but assures her that all will be well – using the often-quoted words: “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live even though he dies, and whoever lives and believes in me will never die”. He goes on to ask whether she can believe this.

Later we read that when they all arrived at the grave and Jesus saw their weeping and sadness he was deeply affected and wept too. He was about to call Lazarus out of the tomb alive, yet he too, was overcome and wept. Sometimes we feel at the time we lose loved ones we should try and hold back tears, yet I believe they can be a wonderful healing and release. We may feel embarrassed – but if it was OK for Christ to cry, I believe it’s OK for us too.

The end of our reading had Lazarus alive and free of his grave clothes. Christ does not promise that his followers will have a trouble-free life: he said (recorded elsewhere in the Bible) “In the world you will have tribulation” but he also added “I have overcome the world”. As we sing in the song, “The Lord’s My Shepherd”, we may have to walk the darkest path, but we will not fear, for Christ will be with us, walking with us and comforting us.

Let’s pray that we will be able to trust Jesus to indeed walk with us through whatever life may bring, and trust our loved ones to Him.

The book of Romans, further on in the Bible, has the following words;

We are more than conquerors through him who loved us, for I am convinced that neither death, nor life, neither angels or demons, neither the present or the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.