Jul 29, 2020

FRIENDSHIP: MARY...MARTHA...LAZARUS



Song     Love and Truth Will Meet

O God, open my lips.
And my mouth will declare your praise.
Make haste, O God, to deliver me.
Make haste to help me, O God.

Holy God, Holy and Mighty, Holy Immortal One:
May your mercy and compassion keep us in your love.

Almighty God, to whom all hearts are open,
all desires known, and from whom no secrets are hid:
Cleanse the thoughts of our hearts
by the inspiration of your Holy Spirit
that we may perfectly love you,
and worthily magnify your holy Name.
Amen.

Scripture     Psalm 139. 1-18
O God, you’ve searched me, and you know me.
You know if I am standing or sitting,
you read my thoughts from far away.
Whether I walk or lie down, you are watching;
you are intimate with all of my ways.
A word is not even on my tongue, O God,
before you know what it is: 
you hem me in, before and behind,
shielding me with your hand.
such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
a height my mind cannot reach!
Where could I run from your spirit?
Where could I flee from your presence?
If I go up to the heavens, you’re there;
if I make my bed in Death, you’re already there.
I could fly away with wings made of dawn,
or make my home on the far side of the sea, 
but even there your hand will guide me,
your mighty hand holding me fast. 
If I say, “The darkness will hide me,
and night will be my only light,” 
even darkness won’t be dark to you;
the night will shine like the day—
darkness and light are the same to you. 
You created my inmost being
and stitched me together in my mother’s womb. 
For all these mysteries I thank you—
for the wonder of myself,
for the wonder of your works—
my soul knows it well. 
My frame was not hidden from you
while I was being made in that secret place,
knitted together in the depths of the earth; 
your eyes saw my body even there.
All of my days were written in your book,
all of them planned before even the first of them came to be. 
How precious your thoughts are to me, O God!
How impossible to number them!
I could no more count them
than I could count the sand.
But suppose I could?
You would still be with me! 
Priests for Equality. The Inclusive Bible. Sheed & Ward.

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This particular psalm expresses a wonderful truth about our relationship with God. The intimacy of the words and images are passion filled and make an impression upon our hearts, minds, and souls.
To think that there is a God. who not only knows us so perfectly well, but even in this knowledge there is love. The love of God accepts and affirms us with all our scars and warts...even when there are scars we have created for others.
Imperfections and downright brokenness do not remove God and God's love from our presence. Steadfast, in faithfulness and complete abandonment, God is a spendthrift who loves us no matter what.
I wonder if that is what Mary, Martha, and Lazarus found in Jesus? There is something striking about their friendship that parallels the words of the psalm. They loved Jesus. And Jesus loved them. The words in the Scriptures that tell of their experiences together read like a love story. 
Let us take a moment and hear anew those words.
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John 11. 1-3, 17-36
There was a certain man named Lazarus, who was sick. 
He and his sisters, Mary and Martha, were from the village of Bethany.
Mary was the one who had anointed the feet of Jesus with perfume and dried his feet with her hair, and it was her brother Lazarus who was sick.
The sisters sent this message to Jesus: “Rabbi, the one you love is sick.”
     When Jesus arrived in Bethany, he found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb for four days. Since Bethany was only about two miles from Jerusalem, many people had come out to console Martha and Mary about their brother. When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went to meet him, while Mary stayed at home with the mourners. When she got to Jesus, Martha said, “If you had been here, my brother would never have died! Yet even now, I am sure that God will give you whatever you ask.”
“Your brother will rise again!” Jesus assured her.
Martha replied, “I know he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.” 
Jesus told her, “I am the Resurrection and I am Life: those who believe in me

will live, even if they die; and those who are alive and believe in me
will never die. “Do you believe this?”
“Yes!” Martha replied. “I have come to believe that you are the Messiah, God’s Only Begotten, the One who is coming into the world.”
When she had said this, Martha went back and called her sister Mary. 
“The Teacher is here, asking for you,” she whispered.
As soon as Mary heard this, she got up and went to him. Jesus hadn’t gotten to the village yet. He was at the place where Martha had met him. Those who were there consoling her saw her get up quickly and followed Mary, thinking she was going to the tomb to mourn. 
When Mary got to Jesus, she fell at his feet and said, “If you had been here, Lazarus never would have died.”
When Jesus saw her weeping, and the other mourners as well, he was troubled in spirit, moved by the deepest emotions.
“Where have you laid him?” Jesus asked. 
“Come and see,” they said.
And Jesus wept.
The people in the crowd began to remark, “See how much he loved him!”
Priests for Equality. The Inclusive Bible. Sheed & Ward.
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Jesus reveals to us a God who weeps, a God who suffers in our losses and knows firsthand the pain and grief we share. God knows us better than we know ourselves.

I believe that is what was found in the friendship between Jesus, Martha, Mary and Lazarus. And, in that friendship, Jesus brings life where there is death, healing where there is ailment, comfort where there is challenge, endurance where this is need for time, perseverance where there is fatigue, hope where there is despair, and love where there is apathy and hatred.

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Prayer
O God, who in Jesus, enjoyed the love of friends
in Mary, Martha and Lazarus,
in life's learning, differing or ways, and hospitality:
may we so rejoice in your love
that the world may come to know
the depths of your wisdom,
the wonder of your compassion,
and your power to bring life out of death.
For blessed are You and blessed is your Kin-Dom,
forevermore.

The Great Amen








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