God Breathes Love, March 29

God Breathes Love

Ezekiel 37:1-14; Psalm 130; Romans 8:6-11; John 11:1-45

Pastor Gene Knoth

Catskill, Palenville, and Quarryville United Methodist Churches; March 29, 2020

 

This year has been a unique Lenten journey, one that we will not forget. It seems so long ago, that we began Lent with receiving ashes in Quarryville. On our first Sunday in Lent, we began to draw us closer to Christ beginning the path to the cross. By the second Sunday news of the virus was spreading, and at the church I could feel a sense of closeness and a real need for each other a time to be together. Later that week came the news that so much of life has been put on hold. Our Bishop had to make the heartbreaking decision, and it was heartbreaking for him to close our churches, interrupting so many important and deeply needed events. He took this action in faith for the safety of the flock. It’s hard now to believe It was only 16 days ago; it was a challenge for me to reconcile. I felt like part of my identity was gone. I had to search and look for God’s authority in my life. And as I was driving home. The song “Control” came on the radio, part of the lyrics go like this, “God you don’t need me but somehow you want me, oh how you love me, somehow that frees me to take my hands off my life and the way it should go. To open my hands up and give you control. I give you control.” It’s a blessing to receive reassurance from God who when we look is always Reassuring.

 

Since the closure pastors have still been meeting and talking on conference calls and zoom meetings which are video calls, Our Bishop, Tom Bickerton, has recorded many messages which you can read from the conference website reassuring us that the conference center building is closed but that the staff is all working remotely the Church is still open. He prays for each of his pastors by name daily. And he prays for all the Churches and members of the New York annual conference. We have learned to talk to each other better by phone and stay in better contact. And there’s reassurance that we are reaching out in online services like today’s reaching out to new people .God is in control .God is still bringing us to Christ this Lent. Leading us to the Cross , loving us unconditionally so unconditionally that “when the time came, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, in order to redeem those who were under the law so that we might receive adoption as Gods children. And because you are children, God sent the spirit of his Son into our hearts.” Gal. 4:4-6a NRSV.


God continues to lead us by the spirit as led His prophet Ezekiel. It was God who put the strength inside of Ezekiel to prophesy to the bones. Calling out to the power of God to wake them up and as they gained flesh and started moving, he calls again for the breath that brings life to where there was none, and life is brought forth. Out of the depths of despair and deep distress people call out to their inner strength to Father God , without words, To connections beyond ourselves, deep within our souls, To find healing and forgiveness, to seek peace, to overcome trauma, to stay in recovery and to reach out to others who need us. I have a great friend who had fallen into deep physical distress from addiction to alcohol. His legs are all swollen he was a frequent ambulance patient and his liver it stopped working. Many had given up hope for him when he entered a long-term care facility. Yet he found strength inside of himself to keep getting the care he needed and had a procedure to help him live with a damaged liver. He’s now been out of the hospital for a year doing positive things for himself. Including yoga and exercise and dozens of push-ups per day. He’s back from a deep place.
 

Out of the depths Jesus called Lazarus out of the tomb knowing in advance that he had to wait till he died that he had to wait four days, knowing the terrible pain it cost others, knowing there would be resentment knowing this and showing his humanity he wept with Mary, finally the time comes and he breathed life into Lazarus who came out of the tomb called by his Messiah, and our Messiah called by so great a love. “Dear friends, let us love one another because love comes from God. Whoever loves as a child of God knows God, whoever does not love does not know God for God is love and God showed his love for us by sending his only son into the world so that we might have life through him. This is what love is, it is not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his son to be the means by which our sins are forgiven.” (1 John 4:7-10) May God protect us and keep us safe and help us to share so great a love. With open arms we place ourselves in your Control. Breathe your life in us, O Lord. Amen

 

 

Ezekiel 37:1-14

37The hand of the Lord came upon me, and he brought me out by the spirit of the Lord and set me down in the middle of a valley; it was full of bones. 2He led me all around them; there were very many lying in the valley, and they were very dry. 3He said to me, “Mortal, can these bones live?” I answered, “O Lord God, you know.” 4Then he said to me, “Prophesy to these bones, and say to them: O dry bones, hear the word of the Lord. 5Thus says the Lord God to these bones: I will cause breath to enter you, and you shall live. 6I will lay sinews on you, and will cause flesh to come upon you, and cover you with skin, and put breath in you, and you shall live; and you shall know that I am the Lord.” 7So I prophesied as I had been commanded; and as I prophesied, suddenly there was a noise, a rattling, and the bones came together, bone to its bone. 8I looked, and there were sinews on them, and flesh had come upon them, and skin had covered them; but there was no breath in them. 9Then he said to me, “Prophesy to the breath, prophesy, mortal, and say to the breath: Thus says the Lord God: Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe upon these slain, that they may live.” 10I prophesied as he commanded me, and the breath came into them, and they lived, and stood on their feet, a vast multitude. 11Then he said to me, “Mortal, these bones are the whole house of Israel. They say, ‘Our bones are dried up, and our hope is lost; we are cut off completely.’ 12Therefore prophesy, and say to them, Thus says the Lord God: I am going to open your graves, and bring you up from your graves, O my people; and I will bring you back to the land of Israel. 13And you shall know that I am the Lord, when I open your graves, and bring you up from your graves, O my people. 14I will put my spirit within you, and you shall live, and I will place you on your own soil; then you shall know that I, the Lord, have spoken and will act,” says the Lord.

Psalm 130 (UMH 844)

1Out of the depths I cry to you, O Lord. 2Lord, hear my voice!

Let your ears be attentive to the voice of my supplications!

3If you, O Lord, should mark iniquities, Lord, who could stand?

4But there is forgiveness with you, that you may be worshiped.

5I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, in the Lord’s word I hope;

6my soul waits for the Lord, more than those who watch for the morning,

more than those who watch for the morning.

7O Israel, hope in the Lord!

For with the Lord there is steadfast love, with the Lord is plenteous redemption.

8And And the Lord will redeem Israel from all iniquities.

Romans 8:6-11

6To set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. 7For this reason the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law—indeed it cannot, 8and those who are in the flesh cannot please God. 9But you are not in the flesh; you are in the Spirit, since the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him.

10But if Christ is in you, though the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness. 11If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will give life to your mortal bodies also through his Spirit that dwells in you.

John 11:1-45

11Now a certain man was ill, Lazarus of Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. 2Mary was the one who anointed the Lord with perfume and wiped his feet with her hair; her brother Lazarus was ill. 3So the sisters sent a message to Jesus, “Lord, he whom you love is ill.” 4But when Jesus heard it, he said, “This illness does not lead to death; rather it is for God’s glory, so that the Son of God may be glorified through it.” 5Accordingly, though Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus, 6after having heard that Lazarus was ill, he stayed two days longer in the place where he was. 7Then after this he said to the disciples, “Let us go to Judea again.” 8The disciples said to him, “Rabbi, the Jews were just now trying to stone you, and are you going there again?” 9Jesus answered, “Are there not twelve hours of daylight? Those who walk during the day do not stumble, because they see the light of this world. 10But those who walk at night stumble, because the light is not in them.” 11After saying this, he told them, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep, but I am going there to awaken him.” 12The disciples said to him, “Lord, if he has fallen asleep, he will be all right.” 13Jesus, however, had been speaking about his death, but they thought that he was referring merely to sleep. 14Then Jesus told them plainly, “Lazarus is dead. 15For your sake I am glad I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him.” 16Thomas, who was called the Twin, said to his fellow disciples, “Let us also go, that we may die with him.”

17When Jesus arrived, he found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb four days. 18Now Bethany was near Jerusalem, some two miles away, 19and many of the Jews had come to Martha and Mary to console them about their brother. 20When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went and met him, while Mary stayed at home. 21Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. 22But even now I know that God will give you whatever you ask of him.” 23Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.” 24Martha said to him, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.” 25Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Those who believe in me, even though they die, will live, 26and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?” 27She said to him, “Yes, Lord, I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, the one coming into the world.” 28When she had said this, she went back and called her sister Mary, and told her privately, “The Teacher is here and is calling for you.” 29And when she heard it, she got up quickly and went to him. 30Now Jesus had not yet come to the village, but was still at the place where Martha had met him. 31The Jews who were with her in the house, consoling her, saw Mary get up quickly and go out. They followed her because they thought that she was going to the tomb to weep there. 32When Mary came where Jesus was and saw him, she knelt at his feet and said to him, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.”

33When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who came with her also weeping, he was greatly disturbed in spirit and deeply moved. 34He said, “Where have you laid him?” They said to him, “Lord, come and see.” 35Jesus began to weep. 36So the Jews said, “See how he loved him!” 37But some of them said, “Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man have kept this man from dying?” 38Then Jesus, again greatly disturbed, came to the tomb. It was a cave, and a stone was lying against it. 39Jesus said, “Take away the stone.” Martha, the sister of the dead man, said to him, “Lord, already there is a stench because he has been dead four days.” 40Jesus said to her, “Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?” 41So they took away the stone. And Jesus looked upward and said, “Father, I thank you for having heard me. 42I knew that you always hear me, but I have said this for the sake of the crowd standing here, so that they may believe that you sent me.” 43When he had said this, he cried with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!” 44The dead man came out, his hands and feet bound with strips of cloth, and his face wrapped in a cloth. Jesus said to them, “Unbind him, and let him go.”

45Many of the Jews therefore, who had come with Mary and had seen what Jesus did, believed in him.

 

 

 

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