But my pastor also pointed out something else that hit hard: Jesus let Lazarus die before he raised him. He could have healed from his sickness before he died. But He didn’t. You see, while God is the ultimate healer He is also in the business of restoration. And oftentimes that means death before new life. Resurrection simply cannot occur without death. It’s impossible. (full post here)
I think I still get chills every time I read these words…a poem…a liturgy of sorts that Mark Pierson included in his book The Art of Curating Worship. My favorite portion of the poem is below, but check out this post for the entire thing. It’s worth it!
We often forget the story which came to us,
Preferring order to uncertainty;
Orthodoxy to love,
And religious piety to unmerited grace
Come to us again, Lord Jesus,
And whisper your words of welcome;
Fill our hearts with reckless wonder,
And our minds with splendid nonsense
Awake in us the dream of the kingdom;
Resurrect our dead and perished visions;
Alert us to the heaven in our midst;
And quicken us to laugh and love
Last Sunday at church we were in John chapter 10 studying the story of the death and eventual resurrection of Lazarus. It’s a story I’ve heard many times…probably too many to count since I was a kid.
But, this time the whole idea of resurrection struck me like never before. My pastor pointed out that Jesus is in the business of bringing dead people to life. And that isn’t restricted to physical death. It clicked for me that over the last year Jesus has raised me from death. From the death of religion & legalism resurrecting me into a life-giving relationship with Him.
I am alive. I feel alive like never before. The grace in that overwhelms me & the joy is often inexpressible.
But my pastor also pointed out something else that hit hard: Jesus let Lazarus die before he raised him. He could have healed from his sickness before he died. But He didn’t. You see, while God is the ultimate healer He is also in the business of restoration. And oftentimes that means death before new life. Resurrection simply cannot occur without death. It’s impossible.
I think oftentimes we want to overlook that fact because we don’t want the pain…we just want the beauty on the other side. But the truth is the beauty is nothing without the pain. I found that realization comforting. Hard to swallow at times, yes. But, a comfort in knowing that after death comes new life and that new life isn’t possible without death.
How have you experienced resurrection lately?
I had a professor in college who made us memorize this definition: the Kingdom of God is God’s rule in the hearts of His people. I think that definition fails to capture the majesty of the Kingdom. Even now I struggle to find words that seem fitting to describe what it really looks like.
It is powerful and grand yet also found in the beauty of simplicity.
It is the intricate web spun by a spider.
And the tallest building constructed by men.
It is the sound of a thousand voices joined in worship.
And the barely audible rustling of leaves in a calm breeze.
I see the Kingdom of God in the mountains.
I see it in the center of the city.
In the eyes of strangers and the smiles of friends.
I hear it in the laughter of children and love freely given.
Quite simply: the Kingdom of God is His presence. It is a Holy God choosing to dwell in the hearts and lives of unholy people. It is love. It is grace. It is relationship. That’s where it starts and that’s where it ends. In between is the Church.
This is the seventh post in a series of twenty. For more on the background, check out this post.
This poem was written somewhere around the 1920s. It’s eery to me how true it is of today’s world. I read it and I hear a warning and encouragement to stop, take a step back, and rethink what we’re doing and more importantly why we’re doing it.
Our New Religion From “Gaily the Troubadour”
by Arthur Guiterman (1871-1943)
First dentistry was painless.
Then bicycles were chainless,
Carriages were horseless,
And many laws enforceless.
Next cookery was fireless,
Telegraphy was wireless,
Cigars were nicotineless,
And coffee caffeineless.
Soon oranges were seedless,
The putting green was weedless,
The college boy was hatless,
The proper diet fatless.
New motor roads are dustless,
The latest steel is rustless,
Our tennis courts are sodless,
Our new religion — godless.