Hope - Reflections 3-26-2020

Texts for Sunday March 29, 2020
5th Sunday in Lent

Ezekiel 37:1-14
Psalm 130
Romans 8:6-11
John 11:1-45

These texts for the 5th Sunday in Lent are meant for a time such as this. Or a time such as this offers a new lens through which these texts can be read. For those living in exile – distanced from friends and family – or living in the shadow of death – the “vulnerable” categories for COVID19– these texts bring hope to despairing people. 

Both the first reading and the Gospel are among my absolute favorite stories in scripture. 

Ezekiel’s vision starts in a valley filled with dry bones. Ezekiel 37:11 quotes the people of God who say our bones are dry, our hope has gone, we are done for. Sometimes, if I’ve heard a little too much news, or imagined a little too vividly, or prayed a little too desperately, this whole COVID19 thing can get me to that same place of “hope is gone, we are done for”. God’s answer to those despairing people (including me) is illustrated in Ezekiel’s’ vision when bone comes together with bone, then sinews and flesh and skin return. And finally, God breathes new life into each one.  You are not done for - I will put my spirit within you, and you shall live

Psalm 130 feels like it was written in a time of “social distancing” and “shelter in place”, doesn’t it?  Out of the depths of separation and isolation I cry to you O Lord. I love how the authors of psalms of trust assert their protest then come back around to trust by the end. Probably one of the benefits of journaling. This psalmist returns to proclaim that with the Lord there is steadfast love, and I shall wait for you, O LORD for in your word is my hope.

By the time of Paul’s letter to the Romans, the early church is starting to get push back from the state. They are in danger. Paul explains that through God’s Spirit, the very Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead, you will receive life. 

Finally, in the Gospel of John, we move to the drama of the raising of Lazarus from the dead. For those who oppose Jesus, this act provides the final proof that something must be done to get rid of Jesus. For Lazarus’ sisters and community, this act is an infusion of new life for them all. Even before Lazarus is raised, both sisters proclaim faith - Lord if you had been here- that Jesus’ love that is greater than death.

That hope is what we now have in the face of despair and death. God’s love is greater than fear, isolation, or even death.

Does all this mean that our loved ones, our neighborhood will be spared COVID19? Nope. Israel continued to fall under foreign rule; psalms continue to cry out in pain; Christians continued living under Roman persecution; and Lazarus died again. 

But we can be certain that within God’s love, there are no endings that stretch beyond God’s care.

How to Find Us

Gloria Dei Lutheran Church in Iowa City

Gathered by grace. Scattered for service.

123 E Market Street
Iowa City, IA 52245