Sunday, 6 April 2014

The Fifth Sunday in Lent

...or 'Passion Sunday' as it used to be known. From this point onwards, the Church's thoughts are directed increasingly towards the betrayal, arrest, passion, and death of Jesus. Our worship takes on a more sombre tone, and our statues and crosses are veiled. It is almost as though we are in mourning, awaiting the joy of Easter.

Example of veiling, via the internet!
And yet we're given the story of the raising of Lazarus, as our gospel reading. Why?

Lazarus being raised, from a stone tomb on the third day of Jesus' absence points forward to Jesus' resurrection. It is the occasion for the famous words "I am the Resurrection and the Life". We recall Jesus' death in the light of his resurrection. We are not simply commemorating a sad event, the torture and execution of a prisoner, a notable example of human sin. We certainly are doing that, but we are also celebrating a victory - the victory of the crucified God over death.

Yet it is a tragic victory, hard won through pain and suffering. And it is significant that today's gospel contains the shortest verse in the English Bible - 'Jesus wept'. In Jesus, God has suffered as a human being. He knows, and understands, our hurt and pain, our loss and our desperation. No matter where we are in life, we can bring it to him. As we journey through the next two weeks to Calvary and beyond, let's not lose sight of that.

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