Looking for spiritual refreshment? God Pause email devotions are short, meaningful reflections on the following Sunday's lessons and gospel delivered directly to your email box. By Sunday, you'll be ready for an extra meaningful worship experience. 

Our devotion writers are Luther Seminary alumni. Their reflections are a gift to you and to the church.


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Thursday, October 31, 2013

Next Day

"Lazarus, come out!"  How frightening it must have been. Jesus had raised the dead before and it was always unsettling. In Nain he approached a funeral procession and walked right up to those carrying the body.  He told the man to "get up" and he did. Our first reaction might be to think "how cool!" But for those who witnessed it terror came first before the joy of realizing what he had just done. Now in this scene Jesus calls Lazarus to step out of the grave. It is a scene that is equally as shocking; yet just as remarkable.

Miracles reveal things about Jesus but seem so distant to our everyday experience. We see death on TV or in the news and grow numb to it. Halloween honors death, murder, and the grotesque. We yawn or sleep through spectacular special effects in movie-making that wowed us only a few years before, and label them as "lame." Can we really be shocked anymore?

Yet as much as we glorify death or become indifferent to it as a community, we avoid it personally. In the last few years I've watched funerals become "celebrations of life," particularly for families who have no connection to a church. A first reaction for "insider" church members like us might be to roll our eyes or tell them to "get real." But perhaps a better option is to find a way to talk with them about death and help them face its grim reality in a world that makes believe too often.

In death we do celebrate life—the life of each person. But as Christians we do something more that can be quite shocking. We celebrate a new life that comes only by first dying—a new life that is given in Jesus, who died quite gruesomely, then stepped out of the grave.

"Lazarus, come out!" is our battle cry in a world that can find happiness only in the present moment and satisfaction in only in what is new and later to be discarded. When Jesus approaches the grave, he calls out your name. Can you hear it? What begins is a new life in him, which lasts far beyond this moment, because it belongs to you eternally.

Help us O God to live anew as Jesus calls us out of the grave on this day. Amen.

Geoff T. Sinibaldo
New Canaan, Conn.
Master of Divinity , 2002

John 11:32-44 (NRSV)

32 When 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."
33 When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who came with her also weeping, he was greatly disturbed in spirit and deeply moved.
34 He said, "Where have you laid him?" They said to him, "Lord, come and see."
35 Jesus began to weep.
36 So the Jews said, "See how he loved him!"
37 But some of them said, "Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man have kept this man from dying?"
38 Then Jesus, again greatly disturbed, came to the tomb. It was a cave, and a stone was lying against it.
39 Jesus 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."
40 Jesus said to her, "Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?"
41 So they took away the stone. And Jesus looked upward and said, "Father, I thank you for having heard me.
42 I 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."
43 When he had said this, he cried with a loud voice, "Lazarus, come out!"
44 The 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."

This God Pause daily devotion is brought to you by the alumni of Luther Seminary.