Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Upper Room Liturgical Celebration - April 2, 2017

On Sunday, April 2, 2017, Dennis McDonald and Lindy Sanford, ARCWP led the Upper Room Liturgical Celebration. Dennis' homily starter based on the Gospel reading of the raising of Lazarus and Joyce Rupp’s poem, Dry Bones is printed below.

Dry Bones by Joyce Rupp, OSM
Tiredness grounds me
Into a quiet stupor
Of the spirit.

I yearn to be inspired,
To be lifted up, set free
Beyond the place of deadness.

The struggle goes on,
And you and I, God,
We exist together
With seemingly
Little communion.

Yet, in the deepest part of me,
I believe in you,
Perhaps more strongly than ever.

I am learning you
As a God of silence,
Of darkness, deep and strong.

I do not wrestle anymore,
Only wait, only wait,
For you to bring my dry bones
Into dancing once again.

Dennis McDonald’s Homily Starter:

“I yearn to be inspired,
To be lifted up, set free
Beyond the place of deadness.”

As I reflected on the Gospel today, I was struck by these words of Joyce Rupp, and began to apply them to Martha, Mary and Lazarus. That then led me to think about the inspiration that, perhaps, we each yearn for in our lives, at one time or another.

Martha and Mary cannot understand why Jesus has not come when they send word that Lazarus is dying.  They struggle to understand how a good, dear friend waits, not far away, until death takes Lazarus from them. 

When word comes that Jesus is finally coming, Martha rushes to meet him and chastises him. Lazarus would still be alive if he had come.  Martha doesn’t wait for an invitation, she goes in search of being lifted up and set free from her anger and hurt.  Jesus calls her to examine her faith in him, and it provides the author of this Gospel the opportunity for Martha to express the belief of the Christian community that Jesus is the Christ, the “resurrection and the life”.  Belief in the Christ will bring you new life, but not always in your timeframe.

Mary, on the other hand, stays at home with the other mourners, and only approaches Jesus when he has called her to him. She also chastises Jesus, but his response this time is to ask where Lazarus is and to be taken to him.  He is, in this instance, going to answer by showing the power that he, through his relationship with the Source of Life, has to bring forth new life.

Finally, Lazarus lies in a tomb wrapped and bound. Some of those who have reflected on this reading, speak of Lazarus not being physically dead, but being spiritually dead. Either way, Jesus calls him forth from the tomb, and Lazarus responds to the call and comes forth to be set free, unwrapped, and given new life in Christ. 
When have you been in the position of Martha, Mary or Lazarus? We have all, I am sure at one time or another struggled and questioned where God is, where Jesus is when we are desperate for answers, when we seek a sign that we will be lifted up and freed “beyond the place of deadness”.

And which of them are you, are you Martha who is proactive and goes searching for the answer and being reassured that there is life eternal?  Or are you Mary who stays at home surrounded by others, hoping that you will receive a message to go and discover the answer by being shown the power of faith?  Or are you Lazarus, laying in the darkness, wrapped and bound, unable to move forward, awaiting the call to come forth and live again, being set free from that which binds you?

Joyce Rupp provides us one answer on what to do during those times when our bones are dry, when our faith is low:

“I do not wrestle anymore,
Only wait, only wait,
For you to bring my dry bones
Into dancing once again.”

What message have you heard through today’s readings, how do they call you forth, what will it cost you?

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