Roll Away the Stone

"She's in a better place." Have you ever been on the receiving end of these words after a loved one has died? Maybe it brought you comfort, or maybe you, like me, found anything but that in this response. Why couldn't this world have been a good place? What does it mean that "a better place" is away from loved ones? The power of grief is significant, particularly in the face of early, unexpected, and/or tragic loss. Each of us processes these losses differently, but grief is normal. Grief is a healthy response. It can also be maddening and devastating.

I imagine this is how the sisters felt when Jesus appeared days after their brother Lazarus had died. In her sorrow, Mary looks at Jesus when he arrives and says, "Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died." As Mary says these words, empathy fills Jesus's heart and he begins to weep with Mary.

This week, as we read John 11:1-45, we encounter the devastation of death. We witness the responses of Mary and Martha and their friend, Jesus. While death is what brings them together at this point, it is not the end of the story. This text, and the raising of Lazarus, fall directly in the middle of the book of John and give us a tiny glimpse of what we'll witness at the end of this Gospel, the resurrection of Jesus. Together this week, we journey with Mary, Martha, Jesus, and Lazarus in the midst of death and yet also to new life. May we join with them in imagining, dreaming, and scheming for new life for all who know the stench of death far too well.

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