Reflection 032920 (Lent 5) March 29, 2020
Ezekiel 37:1-14/ Romans 8:6-11/ John 11:1-45
Being Spiritually Alive
Have you ever had an experience where you suddenly felt alive? I can think of some of mine off the top of my head. One time was after my first performing arts festival last year. Something clicked inside my brain and suddenly I found myself wanting to achieve more with my piano education. Another time was when I was called into ministry in 2003. It felt like I was born again as a different person. I finally understood God’s purpose for all my experiences that had not made sense until then. I’m sure I’ve had other experiences that I can’t remember right now, and you must also have some of these experiences. Our experiences might be different, but I think all these live-giving and altering experiences make us feel profound joy that is different from mundane joy.
When someone changes completely, we call it a miracle. Miracle is not only turning water into wine or parting the Red Sea. A cold-blooded murderer might repent completely and become a good person. Before I received God’s call in 2003, I didn’t know true joy and happiness. The fact that I can now be happy merely from my relationship with God feels like a miracle. Today’s story in Ezekiel and the Gospel of John tell big dramatic miraculous stories, although Ezekiel’s scene is a vision. People of Israel had lost hope and became spiritually desolate after seemingly never-ending foreign invasions and oppression. They were like the dead and dried up bones. God is sending Ezekiel to bring a message of hope with this vision of dried bones coming alive; hope that God’s people will prosper again. The people of Israel must have thought they needed nothing less than a miracle to be restored as a nation, as God’s nation. God’s message to them through the Prophet Ezekiel is that God is able. We’ve also seen in the Gospel of John what God can do and is willing to do for the love of us. In today’s gospel story, we meet the deep compassion of Jesus as well as his divine power. Jesus wept because his friend was dead. The miracle of raising Lazarus from the dead comes from the compassionate love of God. Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead with his loving heart. God would raise Jesus from the dead for the love of him, and through him, us who follow him. God’s wants us to live and thrive.
Apostle Paul teaches in the Book of Romans that the Spirit that is in us gives life, as God raised Christ from the dead. Life and resurrection do not happen only through the supernatural phenomenon that we call a miracle. Lazarus was raised from the dead, but none of us probably will; we will die when our time comes. The life and resurrection that we learn from today’s scriptures during this Season of Lent are about our spiritual state. Are we truly alive just because our bodies are alive? We are not truly alive if we don’t know the joy and peace that comes from living with the Spirit of God. What shall we resurrect as we meet Easter and celebrate the resurrection of Jesus? We shall resurrect our spirit with the Spirit of God that breathes into us the heavenly joy and peace; true life. Every fiber of my being came alive when I discovered the joy of performing piano, and when I was called into ministry and I truly felt the love of God for the first time. If we have become complacent in our relationship with God, if we haven’t truly and deeply felt God’s love, this Lent is our chance to let God spiritually revive us. During our social isolation, it is easy to become impatient; we might feel like we are suffocating, being stuck at home for a long period of time. Let God’s spirit be your companion, develop and deepen your relationship with God. And with the Spirit of God, pray for one another, our neighbours who are suffering from the terrible virus, the medical professionals who care for them, truck drivers and grocery workers who provide for our daily needs. Let us use both this Lenten season and the social isolation period to revive our spirits and become closer to God, who will lead us to live more faithfully.