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John: 11:1-45

I imagine today many of us are feeling more than a little bit like Mary and Martha, and the other mourners gathered at the tomb of Lazarus. We may simply be mourning the changes this new event of a pandemic in our time has brought to our lives, or we may be mourning very specific people and relationships that are of concern to us.

When the time of parting comes, what can be hardest for those to whom it comes suddenly is the inability to say the final words we would like to have said. Now when we are stuck in our homes it is difficult to impossible to reach out and touch those with whom we might like to make amends. But we have do time, time to think and reflect, time to consider what we would like to do and say to those for whom we are concerned. It is a real Lenten moment.

I wonder if it crossed Jesus’s mind as he delayed going to the side of the grieving sisters that they and Lazarus too might have needed some time for reflection and working on their relationships. I wonder how they made use of it? Did they tell each other the stories of the best times they had shared? Did they take time to say “Thank you”, “I love you”, “I forgive you”? Did they share what they had learned from one another? These are the words we would all wish to remember as we say our final farewells.

Jesus did arrive, and he stood at the entrance to the tomb and he wept, and he’s weeping now with us and beside all the mourning peoples of the world, in China and Italy, in Spain and Iran, in Washington and New York,… and In the Lehigh Valley of Pennsylvania.

When Jesus wept the falling tear in mercy flowed beyond all bounds.

When Jesus groaned a trembling fear seized all the weary world around.*

One of the sayings or memes on the internet this week was “This is the Lentiest Lent I’ve ever Lented.” No doubt this is true for the vast majority of us. This Lenten season is calling us, no demanding of us that we put that time to good use. So take time in these days we’ve been given, to reflect on your life and relationships. Share your thoughts with your loved ones, in person when you can, on the phone or in a card or letter. Make this a time of growth and renewal of spirit. Most of us will come through this time, but things will be different. Let’s work to make our lives on the other side of this crisis better, even more loving and dedicated to all the world and its people.

We do not know what tomorrow holds. Truth is, we never do. But, by faith, we do know this: Jesus walks with us into tomorrow, standing beside us in sunshine and shadow, in joy and in sorrow, and he always will.

*William Billings, When Jesus Wept, 1770