Near the end of serving my last church, I helped a family bury their 44-year old brother. But he was also son, husband, father, and grandfather. Let’s call him Sam. One of eight children, Sam met and married his wife when they were teenagers. Soon, they gave birth to two daughters. And the daughters had children.
Many at the funeral were under 50, and quite a few were parents with kids. Throughout the service there were bursts of giggles and sudden loud cries. For the children, a sanctuary was unfamiliar, even unsettling.
Lately I've been thinking about Jesus' raising of Lazarus as
the impetus for the authorities' wanting Jesus dead. It might not be that Jesus
raising someone from the dead itself causes the Jewish officials to say,
"That's it. Enough is enough," so much as that Jesus is exactly who he says he
is: the resurrection and the life.
As a John scholar, I have always been fascinated with the scribal confusion about Jesus' "I AM" statement: "I am the resurrection and the life." Some of the ancient manuscripts for the Gospel of John omit "and the life," with the assumption that this is a redundancy and that no self-respecting Jesus would repeat himself. This is Martha's misunderstanding, isn't it?
I’ve noticed an alarming trend in ministry with college students:
they use words better in technological media than in person. Emails,
text messages and even facebook.com posts are often thoughtful,
eloquent and witty. But one-on-one, the same students and I will
stammer about, our words bumping into one another in mid-air.
A generation ago, Ernest Becker taught us that the fear of dying is the mainspring of all human activity, from our smallest efforts at survival to our loftiest cultural achievements. So far as I can tell, our species continues to confirm that thesis.