Come Out!

lazarus

Lent 5A – Come Out!

John 11:1-45

April 6, 2014

 

Jesus said “Lazarus come out!”

“and the dead man came out.”

and then what…?

 

What did Lazarus do?

What had Lazarus seen?

What did Lazarus talk about?

 

I don’t know.

The Bible doesn’t really say.

 

The playwright Eugene O’Neill imagined a bit

about what he thought happened next.

He wrote about it in a play called “Lazarus Laughed.”

 

In the play,

that’s what the dead man who’s no longer dead does – he laughs.

 

O’Neill describes his laugh this way:

“-a so full of a complete acceptance of life,

a profound assertion of joy in living,

so devoid of all self-consciousness or fear,

that it is like a great bird song triumphant in depths of sky,

proud and powerful, infectious with love,

casting on the listener an enthralling spell.

The crowd …is caught by it.”

Mary, Martha, and Lazarus live in the village of Bethany,

a word that means “House of Affliction” in Hebrew.

In the play, because of Lazarus,

Bethany becomes known as the “House of Laughter.”

 

No longer is there fear of death,

there is no more fear of anything,

and the people respond.with laughter,

with profound joy and love!

 

What do you think you would do

if you had no fear?

 

What do you think you would say

if you had no fear?

 

Yesterday my brother, mother and I

went to the Tidal Basin

to see the cherry trees that were blooming.

Yes we saw both of them!

 

As we walked around the basin,

we visited the FDR monument.

On one of the walls of the monument

FDR’s “four freedoms” are inscribed.

 

In his 1941 State of the Union address ,

FDR proposed four fundamental freedoms that people

“everywhere in the world” ought to enjoy:

 

Freedom of speech

Freedom of worship

Freedom from want

Freedom from fear

 

It is often fear that stops us, isn’t it?

we don’t try something new,

because we fear making a mistake,

we agonize over decisions

because we fear making the wrong one

we keep quiet,

because we fear saying the wrong thing,

we don’t try out for the part or the team,

because we feel failure,

we don’t get involved,

because we fear getting over involved,

we don’t take risks

because we fear uncertainty

we don’t ask for something

because we fear being rejected

we don’t speak the truth,

because we fear the consequences

we don’t give to others

because we fear we might not have enough

we don’t embrace change,

because we fear the loss of the way things have been

we don’t sleep

because we fear what might happen the next day

we don’t request help,

because we fear being labelled incompetent

we don’t go to the doctor

because we fear what she may find

we don’t say no

because we fear what people may think

we don’t walk away from bad relationships

because we fear being alone

we don’t do a lot of things…

because of fear.

Freedom from fear

often seems beyond our reach,

even when we do not live in 1941 in a time of war.

 

Jesus says to Lazarus, “come forth!”

“Unbind him!”

And as the dead man comes out of the cave,

as the bandages which bind him are untied,

Lazarus’ fear is released as well.

He begins a new life,

freed from fear.

 

So I ask once again,

What do you think you would do

if you had no fear?

 

What could you do

if you had no fear?

 

If we read just a little farther in our text,

to the end of chapter 11,

we see that the raising of Lazarus had profound consequences.

 

There is power in fear.

Jesus raises Lazarus from the dead, this power is unraveling,

and it sets in motion his path to crucifixion.

 

The gospel writer John says that from this day,

they decided they must kill Jesus.

They can’t have someone around

showing the people that freedom from fear is possible.

They rely on fear to keep people in line.

 

So I ask another time,

What do you think you would do

if you had no fear?

 

What could you do

if you had no fear?

 

What could we do

if we heard the words,

“Jim come forth!

“Denise come forth!

 

If we allowed ourselves to be freed from the bonds of fear,

maybe

we would try something new,

because we wouldn’t fear making a mistake,

we wouldn’t agonize over decisions

because we wouldn’t making the wrong one

we wouldn’t  keep quiet,

because we wouldn’t fear saying the wrong thing,

we would try out for the part or the team,

because we wouldn’t feel failure,

we would get involved,

because we wouldn’t fear getting over involved,

we would take risks

because we wouldn’t  fear uncertainty

we would ask for things

because we wouldn’t fear being rejected

we would speak the truth,

because we wouldn’t  fear the consequences

we would give to others

because we wouldn’t fear we wont have enough

we would embrace change,

because we wouldn’t  fear the loss of the way things have been

we would sleep

because we wouldn’t fear what might happen the next day

we would ask for help,

because we wouldn’t  fear being labelled incompetent

we would go to the doctor

because we wouldn’t fear what she may find

we would say no

because we wouldn’t fear what people may think

we would walk away from a  bad relationship

because we wouldn’t fear being alone

maybe we would do a lot of things…

because we wouldn’t fear.

 

In raising  Lazarus…

God shows us that freedom from fear is possible.

God invites us to be unbound from fear,

to “come forth”

and make a difference in this world right here, right now.

 

I can imagine that if we

Lived our freedom from fear,

There would be a lot of laughter as Eugene O’Neill imagined!,

Laughter which conveyed a profound assertion of joy in living,

… like a great bird song,

…  infectious with love,

..and maybe the world would be caught by it.”

 

Come out people of God !

Come out !

 

Amen

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