Dear Friends in Christ

It is most fortuitous that our Gospel lesson for today from John is the story of Jesus raising up Lazarus.  Mary attempting to dissuade him from having the stone rolled away from the entrance to the tomb, cautions, “Lord, by this time there will be a stench, for he has been dead four days.”

Our health, our economy, our equanimity – they have all been dead for over four days.  There is a great fear about in the land, not of one but of many.  Some of us aren’t sure from where our next meal is coming.  The vast majority of Americans could not some up with funds to meet a $500 emergency.

These fears are real.  And it stinks to high heaven.  We needn’t have been so ill prepared.  We needn’t have botched this.  But where we are, is where we are.  And it stinks, especially for those on the margin. 

But as Jesus reminds Mary, “Did I not tell you that you would see the glory of God?  And friends, that is exactly what we have seen.  Early on in the unfolding of this pestilence, a young woman pulled into a supermarket parking lot in Bend, Oregon.  As she left her car, she heard someone call out for help from her car.  “I walked over and found an elderly woman and her husband. She cracked her window open a bit more, and explained to me nearly in tears that they are afraid to go in the store.”[1]  Rebecca Mehra took the woman’s list and money.  As she did, the woman, her eyes welling up with tears, explained that she and her husband were in their 80s and very afraid that they would catch the virus. 

After Rebecca had returned with the couple’s groceries, the woman told her that they had sat in their car for over forty-five minutes, waiting for the “right person” to come along. 

Hold on, now – we’re getting to what my friend Ed Bacon calls a “Glory Attack.”

On arriving back home with her own items, Rebecca told her boyfriend what had happened at the store.  He urged her to write this up and send it out on Twitter.

“I know it’s a time of hysteria and nerves, but offer to help anyone you can,” Mehra tweeted as part of the viral thread. “Not everyone has people to turn to.”

By Monday, her story was just about everywhere. Her original post had been retweeted almost 107,000 times and she was featured on cable news and online outlets.[2]

And that, my friends is the full, unadulterated Glory of God!

There’s a lot about this virus that stinks.  And some of our bad behavior in the midst of at all reeks with self-centeredness.  Like the Fox News host, Ainsley Earhardt, who was so distressed that women couldn’t get their nails done during this lockdown. Woman, get over yourself.  There are people who have been evicted, Whole families, living on the street and you’re worried about your nails???  Let’s have a little self-transcendence.  This virus is not about you.

But back to Rebecca and that older couple waiting on the kindness of a stranger in a supermarket parking lot.

Beyond the stench of however many days this virus will have us sealed up in our tombs of quarantine, can’t you smell something beyond the rot?  Just a little?  Can’t you smell something that seems a bit like lilies?  Easter lilies, maybe?  If so, what you have a whiff of is the Glory of God.

And that’s what we bring in our days of waiting to one another.  Who knows how long we may be sealed up in this coronavirus tomb?  But I tell you, Easter is a coming. And when we can again see one another’s faces and hold each other close – that will be the best GLORY ATTACK ever.

John


[1] Samantha Kubota, “Young Woman Helps ‘Terrified’ Elderly Couple Get Food, Inspires Others to Pitch In”, Today, Mach 17, 2020.

[2] Op. Cit.

Dear friends in Christ
March 29, 2020

The Rev. John C. Forney
John 11:1-44

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