A short homily in the time of pandemic on the Fifth Sunday of Lent

Homily, “A Short Homily in the Time of Pandemic on the Fifth Sunday of Lent”
Fifth Sunday of Lent, 2020
Online for Santa Fe Episcopal Church/ La Iglesia Episcopal de Santa Fe
San Antonio, TX

Derek M Larson, TSSF

Today’s Lectionary Readings:
Ezekiel 37:1-14
Psalm 130
Romans 8:6-11
John 11:1-45

What a week!

As the coronavirus pandemic continues to escalate, many of us are facing the very real anxieties of all that comes with it. We fear for our health and the health of those we know. We worry about our financial stability and how we will put food on the table. We mourn the loss of graduation ceremonies and wedding postponements.

Like Israel in exile we cry out as in our reading from Ezekiel this morning, “Our bones are dried up, and our hope is lost; we are completely isolated.”

And like the desperate plea in our Psalm we say, “Out of the depths have I called to you, O Lord; hear my voice!”

And like Mary and Martha weeping over the illness and death of their brother, we cry, “Lord if you had been here this wouldn’t have happened…”

And the question on everybody’s mind is will this all be resolved in time for Easter (https://www.cnn.com/…/fauci-trump-easter-coronav…/index.html).

And yet here on the Fifth Sunday of Lent our lectionary readings are all about resurrection! In Ezekiel we see God breath the Spirit into a valley of dry bones that come back to life!

In Romans Paul declares, “he who raised Christ from the dead will give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit that dwells in you.”

In the Gospel of John Jesus cries out to to the dead man in a tomb, “Lazarus, come out!”

And so while we worry about whether our Lenten fast will spill over into Easter, here we are celebrating Easter in the time of Lent!

It’s be such a pleasant surprise that even in the midst of fear and suffering, I have encountered so many beautiful life-giving moments. I see families playing games and watching movies together. I see overworked adults taking naps.

I see people singing hymns from their balconies and cheering for doctors and nurses from their windows (https://www.wfsb.com/…/video_924f6df5-ddd8-555c-a800-eeaa98…).

Sometimes there isn’t such a clear line between death and life. Sometimes there isn’t such a clear line between despair and hope. Between sadness and joy. Between darkness and light.

Sometimes the seasons of Lent and Easter fade into one another and we find ourselves in the time of a Paschal Lent—a Lenten Easter.

Friends, we are living in that time. Death and Life are all around us. We hold in one hand the despair of illness and death and in the other the hope of resurrection. We hold in one hand our weeping, and in the other our hope and joy.

And the good news of both Lent and Easter is that Jesus comes alongside us in both. The good news of today’s gospel reading is not just that Lazarus was raised but that Jesus wept. And as Christ’s followers in the way, Jesus calls us to do the same. We are to be a Lenten people. We are to be an Easter people.

So call your neighbor and weep with them.
FaceTime your mom and play charades.

Pray for those on the front lines of this illness.
Go outside and smell the flowers.

Call your senator and ask for financial relief for the most vulnerable.
Eat some pizza and watch a movie with your kids.

And in your suffering, know that Jesus weeps with you.
And in your healing know it is Christ who makes you well. Amen.