Sunday, March 29, 2020 Sickness – Wait, Hope, Watch
Read Psalm 130, John 11:1-45
We are waiting and watching. To watch means we at least hope for, if not expect, something. Can you see the image of the front porch light that’s shining in the dark? My mother’s house, the house where I grew up, has an outdoor lamp at the end of the driveway. Our tradition is to turn it on every evening when it begins to get dark and leave it on until the last person has returned home or goes to bed. When my brothers were still living at home, it sometimes remained on until the wee hours, and I’m certain that at least one parent was waiting and hoping for safe return. That lamp has been a symbol of waiting, hope and expectation.
Psalm 130 is one of the Psalms of Ascent – a song that was sung by pilgrims as they ascended Mount Zion. It starts in the depths with a cry to God to listen, to be attentive to the crier’s pleading prayer. Then the psalmist expresses a basic tenet of our belief – that our almighty God forgives – and because of unyielding belief in God’s forgiveness and steadfast love, the psalmist will wait in hope. More than those who watch for the morning.
We no longer have people in our communities assigned to watch for the morning. We’d think it odd if every morning someone went through town calling out “it’s morning and all is well!” We take it for granted that morning will come – we expect it and we’ve arranged our lives based on waking to the morning. Sometimes when I’m having one of those nights when I can’t sleep, I “watch for the morning.” And in this time of crisis, there are more people hoping they or a loved one will make it through the night as they watch for the morning. Nations are also watching. We long for a voice to say, “It’s morning and all is well.”
The Gospel lesson echoes the psalm. Mary and Martha cried out to Jesus via a message that let him know their brother, Lazarus, was ill. They cried out in hope and expectation that he would come. And then, they waited. They waited and waited, and then it was too late. Or so they thought. You can see them in their stages of grief when they encounter Jesus. Rage or anger at him: Where were you, how could you let this happen? Begging, “Please do something, God will do whatever you ask.” The people saying, if he could heal the blind man, why couldn’t he do this? In other words, turning their backs and saying “Who needs him?” And even when Jesus gave a direct request, Martha had given up her hope and faith and said, it’s been 4 days… you’re simply too late. The same ways we react to God/Jesus when bad things happen.
Jesus’ spontaneous reaction to the situation was to weep. Such compassion – feeling with others and a mark of steadfast love. He then does what is totally unexpected. He calls Lazarus back to life, shattering the darkness. A hint of what lies ahead.
We wait and watch with hope. When will this pandemic end? When will we be able to “return to normal”? We’re nearing the end of Lent on our calendars, when will we celebrate Easter?
The good news is that Jesus has left a light on for you and is waiting and watching for the surprise of your return, a time that brings morning to your soul. Take time now in hope to turn your heart to God’s steadfast love and compassion.
Morning Has Broken, UMH 145, Eleanor Farjeon
Morning has broken like the first morning, blackbird has spoken like the first bird. Praise the singing, praise for the morning, praise for them springing fresh from the Word.
Mine is the sunlight! Mine is the morning born of the one light Eden saw play! Praise with elation, praise every morning, God’s recreation of the new day!
Evie Doyon, March 2020