RCL Year B All Saints
Wisdom 3:1-9, Psalm 24, Revelation 21:1-6a, Saint John 11:32-44

The Raising of Lazarus on All Saints teaches us something about the Communion of Saints that we might not know otherwise. And that something is this. In the hands of the living God, the line between life and death is very fine. Life is life, and death is life, too. That is the example of Jesus, who gives his life, who accepts an unjust death, in order to live and to give life to “all who put their trust in him.”[1]

That, I think, is the central message of Christianity. It begins either with our sin or with our death as facts we cannot deny. But in the hands of the living God, in the hands of the Savior and Redeemer of the world, our sin and our death become the life of God and eternal life in Jesus Christ our Lord. That, I think, is very good news.

I have often wondered whether Lazarus really welcomed coming back to life. I wonder this particularly after witnessing calamities, hurricanes, human wrong-doing on a large scale, as we saw it in Pittsburgh just a week ago, and just ordinary human crankiness from people who should know better. But we don’t know how eager Lazarus was to walk out of his tomb. But I believe he will be there to tell us in heaven.

At a funeral in the Episcopal Church, you may hear these words from the Prayer Book: “In the midst of life we are in death; from whom can we seek help? From you alone, O Lord.”[2] And I believe it is true. In Christ’s hands what appears from the human perspective to be death is in the divine reality life itself. I believe also that this is the plain and simple meaning of the Reading from the Wisdom of Solomon: “The souls of the righteous are in the hand of God, and no torment will ever touch them. In the eyes of the foolish they seemed to have died…; but they are at peace.”[3]

As a result of the good news in Christ, the question facing each of us is not whether or not we shall live. The question is how we shall live. Will we live and embrace the goodness of God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit, and become fully what God intends us to be; or shall we turn away from God’s way of life? Will we choose death, or will we choose life? As we say daily in the Prayers, if we use them, “Our help is in the Name of the Lord; [t]he maker of heaven and earth.”[4]

[1] The Preface of Holy Week, BCP, page 379.

[2] BCP, page 492.

[3] Wisdom 1:1-3.

[4] BCP, page 127.