There are seasons in my life --and maybe in yours--
when it seems like the Good News whispers
while the Bad News shouts.
A friend faces a devastating illness and we feel powerless to help.
An anniversary spent alone brings painful memories of love and loss.
Despite our care and support, a son struggles with addiction and despair.
The cold grey days of winter linger, and spring seems far away.
On these days,
I feel enclosed in the tomb.
There are times in my life--and maybe in yours—
when the work of the Gospel is easy to ignore.
Times when I’d rather mumble, “Sorry"
than begin the hard work of reconciliation.
Times when I’d rather close my eyes and turn away
than get involved.
There are times in my life—and maybe in yours--
when the passion for justice
that drove me to stand up to bullies--
to reach out to someone in pain--
to walk beside the lonely--
seems to have cooled into a quick, easy prayer
and a few vague promises for the future.
And before I know it,
I am shivering in the tomb.
I am bound.
Let’s face it.
There are times
when the tomb is downright comfortable—
Nobody bothers you there.
Nobody asks you questions or expects a bright answer.
Nobody hands you an agenda or schedules you into meetings.
No one makes dangerous demands
or disturbs your peace.
You never have to squint into the sun,
or see things you don’t want to see.
It is dark, and cool, and quiet in the tomb—
Oh, so quiet.
And if the funeral bindings restrict my freedom,
Those same bindings also keep me snug and secure,
like a baby wrapped in swaddling clothes.
it’s kind of nice to find yourself bound in the tomb.
Episcopal priest Robert Capon asked,
“What happened to radical Christianity,
the un-nice brand of Christianity that turned the world upside-down?
What happened to the category-smashing, life- threatening,
that spread through the first century like wildfire
and was considered (by those in power)
What happened to the kind of Christians
whose hearts were on fire,
who had no fear,
who spoke the truth no matter what the consequence,
who made the world uncomfortable,
who were willing to follow Jesus wherever he went?”
That uncomfortable Jesus spent his life
calling people out of the tomb—
invited Lazarus to tear away the restrictive cloths,
unbind his hands and feet,
leave the darkness of the tomb,
and step out into the light.
That Jesus said:
Do not be afraid.
Let your light shine.
Go, and sin no more.
Woman, you are set free from your ailment.
Come with me, and I will make you fishers of men and women.
Go and make disciples of all nations.
Take up your pallet and walk.
Lazarus, come out!
This is the difficult, challenging, liberating,
journey of discipleship.
Day after day,
on easy days and hard days,
whether we feel brave or frightened or confused,
God invites us to unwind our burial cloths,
turn our feet towards the exit,
our hearts to the hope of new life,
our hands to His work.
Jesus commands us to exit tombs—
to rise to new life--
not only at the end of our lives
Jesus calls us to “Come out” of our fears,
to exit the tomb of comfort and ease,
to leave behind the darkness of sin.
Jesus has rebuked the tomb for Lazarus,
and for each and every one of us, calling,
Exiting the tomb,
we will face difficult decisions.
We will be offered dangerous opportunities
to live out the Gospel message.
We will struggle to promote the value of life
in a world that executes children
and burns women over a dowry dispute.
We will question how to create solidarity
in a world where crumbling urban landscapes
and gated condominiums
share the same zip code.
We will look in the mirror,
and be horrified, humbled—even downright amused
to know that God relies on us
in this holy work.
Yes, exiting tombs is never easy.
True freedom is frightening
and change is risky.
Partnering with God
is sure to be hard and dangerous work.
It would be much simpler,
to stay in the dark, cool, stillness of the tomb.
Making the world uncomfortable
is not very comfortable work.
But safety and security
and a life free from care have
been the birthright of those who follow Jesus out of the tomb.
It helps to know that we are never alone.
We join a procession of believers
“whose hearts are on fire,
who have no fear,
who speak the truth no matter what the consequence,
who make the world uncomfortable,
who are willing to follow Jesus wherever he goes.”
We join Martha and Mary and Lazarus and Peter and the Samaritan woman
and Edith Stein and Blessed Stanley Rother—
ordinary people just like us
who accomplished extraordinary things
because they dared to exit the tomb.
Like them, we will find,
we are no longer bound by death.
We are no longer tied to past mistakes.
We need no longer fear the darkness.
Tombs have never been places for the living.
When Mary Magdalene went to the Tomb on Easter morning,
the Angel said, “Do not be afraid,
for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified.
He is not here.
He has risen, just as he said.
He is going ahead of you
it is the only sure way to follow Him home.
© Dr. Susan McGurgan
Rev. Robert Capon as quoted in https://www.fulcrum-anglican.org.uk/articles/baroness-warsisecularism-and-putting-faith-in-the-mixer/