Regardless of what thinks about President Ronald Reagan’s politics or presidency, I think that most would agree that he was an excellent speaker, gifted with good speech writers. One of his classic lines was delivered in Berlin when he said, “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down that wall.” Of course, President Reagan was referring to the wall that separated East and West Berlin. A wall that separated those who enjoyed many freedoms from those who enjoyed very few. The wall separated those who lived in a dark, drab world from those in a more colorful and glamorous world.
And in short time, the wall was torn down …. the concrete and stone wall was removed. And, new life flourished.
In this week’s Gospel, Jesus called those around him to roll away the stone that blocked the entrance to Lazarus’ tomb. From behind that stone, Jesus was to call Lazarus to new life — to a new beginning — to a second chance.
Let’s reflect upon both the stone — and upon Lazarus.
The stone had been rolled in front of the entrance to Lazarus’ tomb to seal his grave. He was entombed in darkness. He was cut off from the living. From where he was — no tomorrow, no future could be seen. In preparation for raising him to new life, Jesus commanded that the stone be rolled away.
At Easter we all want to celebrate new life. We believe that the power of the resurrection is available to us NOW. In preparation for the new life of resurrection, A STONE might need to be removed from our path. Our challenge, to make sure that the stone removed is the one that blocks our path to a fuller life.
We might be working hard during Lent to pray more — and Jesus says THE STONE robbing us from life is our inattentiveness to the people around us.
We might have made it this far into Lent without a touch of alcohol — and Jesus says that THE STONE that is holding us back from our potential is an uncontrollable anger resulting from grief over missed opportunities from the past.
We might have been mass once or twice a week — or everyday — during Lent. And Jesus says …. SEE THAT STONE around your neck — your selfishness, your loathing of “those people” who seem to always want more and more.
A pebble in our shoe can be very painful and make walking difficult. But a huge stone can be an obstacle in our path. Let’s make sure that the stone we are trying to push away [even with God’s help] might not be THE STONE keeping us in the dark, sealing our fate, separating us from the joy of life.
Then there is Lazarus himself — given a second chance to live. Called forth from the tomb and unwrapped of his burial garments, Lazarus was called from darkness into light — called into a world of opportunity —- given a chance to do the things “left undone.” I cannot imagine that he returned to life as normal, life as usual. Some things must have changed, some attitudes about life must have been different.
And so, as Jesus calls you and I to new life — as he calls us to come alive — what can we see life to be like? What is holding us back from REALLY LIVING the way we want to live and the way God intends for us to live.
Take a moment — breathe deep — be quiet — close your eyes if you need to — and ask: what is holding me back? what limits me? what puts me in the dark?
When I first stepped away from parish ministry, I could not imagine what was ahead. And yet, now that I look back over 4+ years, I know there is a “life beyond the life” …. a life beyond the life. And today, I stand in life with a strong belief that there is time and energy to live in a “new way.”
Lent is a time to look closely at anything or everything that might limit us — those habits, actions, those attitudes, those secrets, those sins, those situations, those people — who are holding us back? We are called — with the power of God — to untie ourselves from these bonds. Ezekiel reminds us that God is calling us to come forth from our graves. Jesus tells us he is the resurrection and the life.
Resurrection is an experience — a promise — that can be lived throughout life — not just when we draw our last breath. From my experiences, I know Jesus is the resurrection and the life.
“The Walking Dead” is a creepy television show — it is not intended to be my path or your path.