PSALM: 130 AND JOHN 11: 1-45 

Week of April 10, 2011

Rev. Marguerite Sheehan

Focusing Scriptures: Psalm 130 and John 11: 1-45 

Psalm 130: 1 

Out of the depths I cry to you, O Lord. Lord hear my voice! Let your ears be attentive to the voice of my supplications. 

John 11: 32-35 

When Mary came where Jesus was and saw him, she knelt at his feet and said to him, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” When Jesus saw her weeping, he was greatly disturbed in spirit and deeply moved. He said “Where have you laid him?” They said to him, “Lord come and see.” Jesus began to weep. 


What does it take to disturb the Spirit of God? How do we rouse the Source of our deepest compassion and our greatest hopes, when we are tucked away in the tomb of our own hopeless lives? Out of the depths we cry O Lord, and for too long all we hear is an echo of our own cry, O Lord! The readings this week point to the sign of God’s power in a miracle of resurrection. The miracle does not come wrapped in a pretty package but in a stinking shroud and the voice of women who call Jesus out of his grand ideas of divinity and directly into the darkest place of his humanity. The sisters; Martha who had cooked for Jesus, and Mary who had anointed him with oil and wiped his feet with her hair, sent Jesus a message “Lord, he whom you love is ill.” 

Just as Jesus’ mother chided him into turning water into wine at that wedding in Cana, it was women who called Jesus into service. He whom you love is ill. Out of the depths we cry to you. Come to the one you love. But this time Jesus hesitated until the illness proved to be fatal and Lazarus died waiting. “I wait for the LORD, my soul waits, and in his word I hope; my soul waits for the LORD more than those who watch for the morning, more than those who watch for the morning.” Martha and Mary watched and waited but Jesus hesitated and was not moved until he saw them weeping. They told him to come and see, come and see for yourself what love will do to your heart. And Jesus wept. 

Lent is the time in the church year where we deliberately allow ourselves to sink into the despair that comes from facing our mortality. We come into solitude and meditate on the trials of Jesus as he walked toward his own death. We step into our fears and loneliness, our own waiting for the morning that seems like it will never come. By this time in Lent we are ready to walk away from it all. But then comes the story of Jesus and his beloved friends and we know that we have to stay and watch to the end. We hope against hope that in this story and in this psalm we will find God’s love for us. 

When we come and see for ourselves and we stay with the smell of the rotten body and the sorrowful sisters, we are surprised to find a God who cannot hide from our tears. “And Jesus wept” is the most powerful testimony of God’s need for us and our need for God’s love. The raising of Lazarus from the dead comes almost as an after thought. “Lazarus come out! And the 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.” 

Our God is a God who cries and who is disturbed by our sorrow. Our God is a God who does not turn away from the stink of death and who ultimately triumphs over despair. Our God is a beloved friend who responds when we call out of the depths. “Lord hear my voice.” Our God turns back to us and commands “Come out!” 

Precious Jesus, Precious Lord, unbind us and let us go.