As you may or may not have heard, the congregation of Peace United Church voted to sell the North Church Building. Now we have to wait to see if the buyers can sell their current home. Please keep all the people of PUC in your prayers.
Midweek Lenten Services will be at the South Church this week. All worship services and other activities will be at the South Church through the end of September. Scripture for Wednesday night is Psalm 82, Isaiah 50:4-11, and Matthew 27:27-44.
This week’s readings are all about flesh and bones. What is life and what is death?
Ezekiel 37:1-14 – Ezekiel is taken out to a valley that is filled with dry bones. The question put to him is, “Can these bones live?” Ezekiel is commanded to prophesy and the bones came together, sinew formed, and flesh returned but there was still death. Commanded again to prophesy the breath of God (see Genesis 2:7) gave the bodies life. The breath and Word of God gives life to the scattered and dead nation of Israel. Is this analogy applicable to churches that seem to have run their course? Is new life possible after death?
Psalm 130 – I use this Psalm in all the funeral services I lead. The psalmist cries out to the Lord from deep emotional pain and waits to hear an answer. He recognizes that answers may not be coming but his hope is in the Lord because he knows that God’s love is steadfast (never ending).
Romans 8:6-11 – I often use selected verses from Romans 8 at funerals also but skip verses 6-10. Only verse 11 is used in the funeral text. Basically, Paul says that sin brings death to our lives (he uses the word “flesh”) but through Christ the Holy Spirit, which is pure righteousness, gives us life. If God is able to raise Jesus from death then God is able to give life to us.
John 11:1-44 – The long story of Jesus and the death of his friend Lazarus. Lazarus gets very sick and his sisters, Mary and Martha, send a messenger to get Jesus to come visit (and heal?). Jesus delays the trip and Lazarus dies. When Jesus and the disciples do get to Bethany Lazarus has been in the tomb for 4 days and Martha challenges Jesus about his delay. Then Martha goes to tell Mary that Jesus was there and Mary rushes out and SHE challenges Jesus about the delay using the same words as Martha, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” He goes to the tomb and commands that the stone be rolled away and Martha worries about the stink. Jesus says a prayer and then commands Lazarus to come out of the tomb which he does still wrapped in the funeral cloths. In verses 45-57, the Pharisees and the Priest begin planning on killing Jesus because of Lazarus’ resurrection. One of the most interesting verses is 49b-50. Caiaphas, the high priest, tells the others, “You now nothing at all! You do not understand that it is better for you to have one man die for the people then to have the whole nation destroyed.” The death of an innocent victim brings peace and security to the community.
May the Spirit of God bring Life to you this week as you read the Word of God.