Bishop Eric Menees
Last Sunday, the Fifth Sunday in Lent, I had the pleasure of worshiping with my family since I was traveling later that morning and so did not schedule a pastoral visit. You’ll remember that the gospel lesson was taken from John chapter 11 and is the telling of the raising of Lazarus.
This is a powerful passage in which Jesus is honored and God is glorified, bringing Lazarus back to life after having died four days before. Fr. Sclafani preached a fine sermon on God being glorified in this miracle, but my son was left with one question: “Dad I get that God was glorified – but what about Lazarus, did he have to die again?”
The answer to that question is yes – Lazarus did die again. Sebastian remarked that poor Lazarus had to die twice, but I said that I look at it as though he had a foretaste of heaven that few prior to him had ever experienced. Because he knew Jesus and had experienced his mercy, power, and grace, he knew what was waiting for him after death. This lead to a wonderful discussion on the way home and through lunch about life and death, and what awaits us after we take our final breath on earth.
Of course, we in the church are blessed that, like Lazarus, we too are allowed a foretaste of heaven and the blessing of experiencing Jesus’ mercy, power, and grace! We celebrate this every Sunday when we gather around the Lord’s Table to hear the word of God faithfully preached and to receive the sacrament of Holy Eucharist, faithfully administered.
What a joy, what an honor, what a privilege we have to hear the biblical recounting of Jesus’ sacrifice for us: his mercy in forgiving us; his power in his triumph over death; his grace infused through the Holy Spirit into our lives. As God’s adopted sons and daughters, we are granted a foretaste of the heavenly banquet and the promise of eternal life with Jesus. I praise God for extending the invitation to us, through his son, to the marriage supper of the Lamb.
All of this has been brought home to me this evening as I prepare to fly east toward Dallas. Reading the Evening Office, I was struck once again by the Sunday Collect for Hope…
Lord God, whose Son our Savior Jesus Christ triumphed over the powers of death and prepared for us our place in the new Jerusalem: Grant that we, who have this day given thanks for his resurrection, may praise you in that City of which he is the light, and where he lives and reigns forever and ever. Amen.
I pray you all a truly blessed Lent as we prepare not only for our eventual resurrection with Jesus Christ, but our daily life in and with him!
Thirty-nine Articles of Religion
XXIII. Of Ministering in the Congregation.
It is not lawful for any man to take upon him the office of public preaching, or ministering the Sacraments in the Congregation, before he be lawfully called, and sent to execute the same. And those we ought to judge lawfully called and sent, which be chosen and called to this work by men who have public authority given unto them in the Congregation, to call and send Ministers into the Lord's vineyard.