Sermons 2008
Lazarus: Waiting for Jesus, Lent 5A, 9 March 2008, John 11:1-45

Home | Light and Love, Christmas 1B , 28 December 2008, John 1:1-18 | The light and the darkness, Christmas Day, 25 December 2008, John 1:1-14 | What would you see? Christmas Eve, 24 December 2008, Luke 2:1-20 | What did you say? Advent 3B, 14 December 2008, John 1:6-8. 19-28 | A refining fire, Advent 2B, 7 Dec 2008, Mark 1:1-8 | Alert, alert! Advent 1B, 30 November 2008, Mark 13:24-37 | Where will we stand: sheep or goats? Proper 29A 2008, 23 November 2008, Matthew 25: 31-46 | The talents to...? Proper 28A, 16 November 2008, Matthew 25:14-30 | Choose this day, Proper 27A, 9 November 2008, Joshua 24:14-25; Matthew 25:1-13 | All Saints A, 2 November 2008, Matthew 5:1-12; 23:1-12 | Holy or not? Proper 25A, 26 October 2008, Matthew 22:34-46 | Things: God's or Caesar's? Proper 24A, 19 October 2008, Matthew 22:15-22 | The wedding and the allegory, Proper 23A, 12 October 2008, Matthew 22:1-14 | The vineyard and the rock, Proper 22A. 5 October 2008, Matthew 21:33-46 | Deference and disobedience, Proper 21A, 28 September 2008, Exodus 17:1-7; Matthew 21:23-32 | Be content, Proper 20A , 21 September 2008, Matthew 20:1-16 | Only one true church? Proper 18A, 7 September 1008, Matthew 18:15-20 | Be content! Proper 20A, 21 September 2008, Matthew 22:1-16 | Be content! Proper 20A, 21 September 2008, Matthew 20:1-16 | Holy Name and Holy Ground, Proper 17A, Exodus 3:1-15; Matthew 16:21-28 | What's in a name? Proper 16A, 24 August 2008, Matthew 16:13-20 | Dogs? Proper 15A, 17 August 2008, Matthew 15:10-28 | Time to get out of the boat, Proper 14A, 10 August 2008, Matthew 14:22-33 | Who, me? Proper 13A, 3 August 2008, Matthew 14:13-21 | LIKE what? Proper 12A, 27 July 2008, Matthew 13:31-33, 44-52 | Good seed, bad seed, Proper 11A , 20 July 2008, Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43 | Watch the Farmer, Proper 10A, 13 July 2009, Matthew 13:1-9, 18-23 | Easy Yoke? Proper 9A 2008, 6 July 2008, Matthew 11:16-19, 25-30 | Baptism of David William and Anne Tyler, Proper 8A, 29 June 2008 | The Twelve or the Dirty Dozen? Proper 6A, 15 June 2008, Matthew 9:35-10:15 | Jesus likes sinners?, Proper 5A, 8 June 2008, Matthew 9:9-13 | Lawlessness or not? Pentecost 3A, Proper 4A, 1 June 2008, Matthew 7:21-29 | What do you mean, if? Easter 6A, 27 April 2008, John 14:15-21 | Comforting words and St Thomas, Easter 5A, 20 April 2008, John 14:1-14 | Ordinary good shepherds, Easter 4A 2008, 13 April 2008, John 10:1-10 | Light for clarity, Easter 3A, 6 April 2008, Luke 24:13-35 | "Blessed are those who....", Easter 2A, 30 March 2008, John 20:19-31 | Hallelujah! He's alive! Easter Sunday A, 23 March 2008, John 20:1-18 | He had it all, Palm Sunday A, 16 March 2008, Matthew 26:14-27:54 | Lazarus: Waiting for Jesus, Lent 5A, 9 March 2008, John 11:1-45 | Miracles Physical and Spiritual, Lent 4A, 2 March 2008, John 9:1-41 | Living Water, Lent 3A, 24 February 2008, John 4:5-42 | God's unselfish love, Lent 2A, 17 February 2008, John 3:1-17 | Temptation, Lent 1A, 10 February 2008 | Ash Wednesday, 6 February 2008, Matthew 6:1-6, 16-21 | They heard the Lord call, Epiphany 3A, 20 Jan 2008, Matthew 4:12-23 | Come and See! Epiphany 2A, 20 January 2008, John 1: 29-42 | Remember Your Baptism? Epiphany 1A, 13 January 2008, Matthew 3:13-17 | We Three Kings, The Epiphany, 6 January 2008, Matthew 2:1-12

Lent 5A 2008 John 11:1-45

“Waiting for Godot” is Samuel Beckett’s play – part tragedy and part comedy. The heroes are Vladimir and Estragon, who converse while waiting for the arrival of the mysterious Godot. Godot never appears, although he constantly sends word that he will soon. Like many modern people, Vladimir and Estragon are characters who try to figure out why they are on earth. During the long wait for Godot, these protagonists offer guesses concerning their existence, and hope that when Godot arrives he will offer insight. Although they never grasp life’s meaning, they nonetheless attempt to ferret out life’s meaning.

Many people find the play tedious, but actually the play makes one anxious. Anxious is a word that best describes the state of people when they are nervous, worried, uneasy, or apprehensive. The story of the raising of Lazarus, mean have this effect as well. Why is Jesus delaying his arrival at Bethany? It is like “Waiting for Godot” – we wait and wait and wait – and then wait some more. This waiting on Jesus creates anxiety and tension: "Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died."

Yesterday was a sad day in the parish. We buried a young man of great promise and talent who for whatever reason took his own life. We cannot explain why this young man died by his own hand. But this we know and believe: At the moment of his death, the dear Lord who weeps with us in our sorrow took his hand and led him into the promised land of many dwelling places, there to be forever in the presence of God. And at the moment of our own death, the Lord who loves us will take our own hands and lead us into that same place where those whom we love but see no longer are waiting for us. And the poet reminds us: Do not stand at my grave and cry, I am not there, I did not die.

I am Resurrection and I am Life says the Lord. We Christians are Easter people even in the depths of Lent. No matter the manner of one’s death, we Easter people know that death is NOT the end of the story. For the same lord who said I am Resurrection and I am Life, also promised us a dwelling place with and near him. He promised us that God the Father loved us all so much that we would never really die but have eternal life. And as sign and symbol of his power over death from death he raised Lazarus, the Centurion’s servant, the daughter of Jairus, the son of the widow of Nain. And on that first Easter morn, he himself arose from his tomb

For Martha and Mary, the sisters of Lazarus, Jesus’ assurance is that he is the resurrection and the life. This promise is one that they can count on because they know Jesus and trust him. God empowers Jesus to raise Lazarus not so much as to resurrect Lazarus, as much as to show people who Jesus is. We want Jesus to snap his fingers or wave his hand at the beginning of this story and bring Lazarus back to life.

Yet we, like those in Bethany, must allow God to work through time, pain, and our own limited understanding to bring about resurrection. This story gives us so much – almost too much -- time to stew because in this account of Jesus and Lazarus, God works to teach us how much we need God. The title of this story in John’s Gospel is “The Raising of Lazarus,” but it could just as easily be called “Waiting for Jesus”.

Waiting for Jesus or waiting for God to work in our lives is never easy. And we might always be anxious about it. However, we can know and believe that God will act – even if we just don’t know when or how. But as Easter people we believe in God and trust God in God’s good time.


In part adapted from a sermon by David N. Mosser for Lent 5A in The Minister’s Annual Manual for 2007-2008.