Sermon – April 6th 2014
Lent V (Year A)
By Roland Legge
We have all felt down in the dumps at some time in our lives. Some of us have experienced depression for short periods of time, while others have struggled with it throughout their lives. Many people have found themselves unemployed, living with illness, broken marriages, and deaths in the family which sucks the life out of them. Minorities find themselves struggling to overcome racism, and bigotry. Gay, Lesbian, Transgendered and Bi-Sexual people live with the threat of losing their jobs, harassment and even death. It is at times like this, we can all relate to Ezekiel’s vision of the “dry bones”. Where have you experienced dry bones in your life?
Ezekiel and his contemporaries were living in exile. They had lost their land, homes, jobs, their national identity and even their faith. They were very depressed. They lost much of their faith because they had been promised by God, in the story of the Exodus, to live in the Promised Land for the rest of their lives. Now they were forced back into living in the wilderness. Many of them felt abandoned by God. When have you felt abandoned by God?
Ezekiel finds the courage and faith to demand that these dry bones, his community of refugees, to come back to life. In our Gospel reading Jesus is also calling on his community to find new life through the story of raising Lazarus from the dead.
Jesus and Ezekiel were calling their people into transformative ministries that would show us the way to the Kin-dome of God. Transformation can only happen when are able to fully let go of all that is holding us back. The story of Lazarus being raised from the dead was told to help us prepare for Jesus resurrection which is the key to all us finding new life and hope.
In order to be transformed we all need something to shake us to the core. Something that will open our hearts and minds to seeing the world as it really is and how we have truly been part of it. Something that will break down all the walls around ourselves that have been built up to protect us from some threat in the past that is no longer serving us.
I wonder how Lazarus resuscitation from the dead changed his life. It must have shook him up. I would like to think that it inspired him even more to be a faithful follower of Jesus even if it meant risking his life. How would it have changed your life?
For the followers of Jesus, it was his death and resurrection that really shook them up. In the days between his death and resurrection many of his disciples were just about ready to give up. Yet once they realized that Jesus was with them in a new way, they found courage in themselves they never knew they had. If you were in their shoe, would the resurrection of Jesus shake you up? Think of a time when you found courage to face something that had been haunting you for a long time.
We all need to be shook up at different times in our lives. It is so tempting to stay with the devil we do know than the devil we don’t know. God through prophets like Ezekiel and Jesus call upon to see beyond our fear and lack of vision into something new and awesome.
As I have told you before the end of my first marriage was a difficult and transformative time in my life. If it wasn’t for my first wife blowing up just after our 5th wedding anniversary because I had given her the wrong color of roses and the wrong number I might have stayed in that unhealthy relationship much longer. I suddenly realized that I needed to make a dramatic change in my life and stand up to her. Up to then I was living a world of make believe always thinking I could fix my wife into treating me well. Thanks to this dramatic wakeup call I have become a much healthier person. What have been those wake up experiences for you?
Can you imagine living in Rwanda during the time of the Genocide? The people of Rwanda and the world had a huge wake up call. Life as they knew it had to change. The Hutu’s and Tutsis needed to learn to forgive each other and begin to work together again. This was going to be a very difficult tasks because of the horrific violence.
The world also woke up to the reality of how imperialism can destroy a nation well after the occupiers had left. Janet L Parker while visiting Rwanda on behalf of the World Council of Churches learned what had started this hatred between the two tribe. She says:
Listening to our hosts, we learned that the animosity between the Hutus and the Tutsis began during the colonial era, when the minority Tutsis were selected by the Belgians to rule over the majority Hutu. The colonizers, including priests, actively cultivated a mythology of Tutsi superiority. Tom Ndahiro of the Rwandan Human Rights Commission told us that the roots of the genocide began with verbal “murder” after the Hutus gained control following independence. Tutsis were called inyenzi—cockroaches—for years before 1994, and labeled “the enemy within.” A genocidal ideology is progressive, slipping in under people’s defenses, inflaming grudges, arousing paranoia, and relying on rewards and punishment to motivate participation in genocide. We heard stories of the complete breakdown of human civilization.
Found at Sojo.net: http://sojo.net/preaching-the-word/can-these-bones-live?parent=41105 Written by Janet L Parker
This shake up has challenged the people of Rwanda to truly share power with all people of their country. Churches began to come alive again. Relationships are being re-built between Hutus and Tutsis. Slowly it is becoming more important to identify as a Rwandan rather than the tribe you came from. The people of Rwanda have shown great faith by coming back together and working hard at creating a just and compassionate country.
But has the world been changed. People working in the United Nations and many NGO’s have seen the light and hold our governments to account such as Desmond Tutu and Romeo Dallaire. Yet it seems that the powers in the world particularly, the United States, Canada, Russia, China and the European Economic Union only seem concerned if it is directly affecting their economic/ political interest. Thousands and thousands of people are killed in Syria and the world community doesn’t seem willing to do much about it. Violence continues to infect the Sudan and the world doesn’t seem to care. Thousands of people are continuing to die from HIV/AIDS even though we can now manage this disease. What horrific event will it take for the world to wake up?
God will continue to use our mistakes to get our attention, if only we would finally pay attention. Do you have a bad habit? What would it take to change your behaviour?
As we approach Easter let us remember the wisdom of the Cross. When we allow ourselves to be vulnerable even if God’s love results in our physical death humanity is changed for the better. When we allow ourselves to be vulnerable even when the love of God forces us to face some of our own demons we are changed. When we allow ourselves to be vulnerable even if it forces us to free ourselves from ego, our false selves, we discover our Christ selves or true selves. When we find our Christ self we become free to live out how the Spirit desires us to live loving, generous, kind, wise, strong and courageous lives.
Go and be your Christ self. Go and make a difference. Go and help bring the Earth back into harmony.