Order of Lutheran Worship
WELCOME AND ANNOUNCEMENTS
All may make the sign of the cross, the sign marked at baptism.
P: Blessed be the holy Trinity, ☩ one God, who is present, who gives life, who calls into existence the things that do not exist.
PRAYER OF THE DAY
P: Let us pray. Almighty God, your Son came into the world to free us all from sin and death. Breathe upon us the power of your Spirit, that we may be raised to new life in Christ and serve you in righteousness all our days, through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.
FIRST LESSON Ezekiel 37:1-14
Please be seated.
L: 1The 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.”
L: The word of the Lord.
PSALM 130 (in unison)
1Out of the depths
I cry to you, O Lord;
2O Lord, hear my voice!
Let your ears be attentive to the voice of my supplication.
3If you were to keep watch over sins,
O Lord, who could stand?
4Yet with you is forgiveness,
in order that you may be feared.
5I wait for you, O Lord; my soul waits;
in your word is my hope.
6My soul waits for the Lord more than those who keep watch for the
morning, more than those who keep watch for the morning.
7O Israel, wait for the Lord, for with the Lord there is steadfast love;
with the Lord there is plenteous redemption.
8For the Lord shall redeem Israel
from all their sins.
SECOND LESSON Romans 8:6-11
To set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. 7
For 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, 8
and those who are in the flesh cannot please God.
But 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. 10
But if Christ is in you, though the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness. 11
If 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.
L: The word of the Lord.
GOSPEL John 11:1-45
P: The holy gospel according to St. John the 11th chapter.
1Now 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.
P: The gospel of the Lord.
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 blindman 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.
SERMON Pastor Rich Donoughue
Silence for reflection follows the sermon.
So I got a text yesterday from my son at work. He lives with us. It said, the manager I’ve been working with for 3 days just told me his wife tested positive for the corona virus. Suddenly all those stories from far away were at our door step. You can’t go anywhere, text anyone, look at the TV or social media without realizing the impact of the virus on the lives of so many.
We grew up in NYC and to see the pictures of empty streets bring to my mind what it must have been like for Ezekiel staring in the valley of dry bones. To hear stories of morgues overwhelmed – ice rinks and refrigerator trucks being used for temporary morgues – bring the specter of death into focus.
The Gospel relates the story of Lazarus’ death. Sick for a time and seriously ill enough that Mary and Martha call for Jesus. But Jesus doesn’t come. Convincing his disciple that “this illness does not lead to death; rather it is for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified.” And so in the delay – Lazarus dies. And when he finally gets to Bethany, Martha first and then Mary come running and in piercing words, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” Even the crowd at the tomb toward the end of the story said, “couldn’t he who opened the eyes of the blind man have kept this man from dying?”
There are not many people who have not had that thought, either fleeting, or with like intensity of Martha and Mary. It doesn’t matter the age, the complications, the length of the illness – years or suddenly – Lord, why did you let my loved one die. With so many recovering from Covid-19, I can only imagine the number of people who have thought or cried aloud those same words. Why doesn’t God listen; why doesn’t God act. Why did my mother, brother, child have to die from this virus?
How can this lead to the glory of God , so that the Son of God may be glorified? In John’s Gospel the glorification of Jesus is being lifted up on the cross to save all of humanity from the death that separates us from God eternally. Not many weeks ago we heard that the Son came not to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. It is this dying that gives life to all who believe.
The disciples try to keep Jesus from going to Bethany. It was in Judea that threats were shown and continued to mount so that Jesus would be put to death. They had even tried to stone him, but he walked away through the crowd. But Jesus will go. Not just to deal with the death of Lazarus, but to face his own death. His own death – the will of God to save us – the love of God displayed in the very sacrifice of God’s own son for us. The gift of Jesus gives life to us. And Thomas says, let’s go too so we can die with him. It is the forgiveness and mercy, the grace and salvation that Jesus brings to us on Calvary’s hill.
Jesus says the words himself, “I am the resurrection and the life.” Martha knows all the confirmation/catechism answers. Ever notice – in church or Sunday School you ask a child a question and the answer is always – God or Jesus. Doesn’t matter the question. So Martha knows Lazarus will rise again – knows that Jesus is Messiah and Son of God and the Coming One. And states she believes. It is that faith – that trust in God through Jesus Christ that Jesus is seeking. Earlier he had said to the disciples, “For your sake I am glad I was not there, so that you may believe.”
That is what Jesus was seeking. Faith that stared death in the face and knew that through Jesus resurrection and life would belong to all who believed.
There is no doubt that Jesus loved Lazarus. His tears at the tomb bore witness to his love for Lazarus and Martha and Mary. Now Martha tries to stop him. Lazarus is dead 4 days. In Jewish teaching in Jesus’ day the spirit leaves the dead person at the end of 3 days. So Lazarus is really dead! First he asks that the stone before the cave be rolled away. So that all would see the glory of God and believe that Jesus was the one sent by God to redeem the world, Jesus after prayer shouts, “Lazarus, come out.”
And Lazarus came out.
That Lazarus is raised is not the most important piece in this story
That the raising of Lazarus gives new life that leads to eternal life is the point.
And all who believe Jesus, believe Jesus’ words, believe the power of the cross, believe Jesus’ resurrection after 3 days (like Lazarus) will have new life now and life for eternity.
Now Lazarus gets to enjoy that new life now, but not until those standing around at Jesus command, “unbind him, and let him go.”
Whom have you been called upon to unbind and let them go free? People are bound in sickness, denial, anger, hatred, loneliness, anxiety and the list goes on. Is God calling you to care for them that they may be unbound?
Yes we too are freed from the fear of death and given a chance to live the new life that God gives to all who believe. We may be quarantined for 14 days; we may be hospitalized; we may be cut off from gathering in the sanctuary for worship; we may only wave to our neighbor; we may keep our 6’ distance – but we will be freed. Freed to live the life Christ won for us or freed to live eternally with God. We are unbound – cut loose from all that limits us – to enjoy the fullness of the life God has in store for us.
I pray that this virus and its effects will end soon; I pray that many will recover; I pray that God will be merciful in the dying days of those who do not recover; I pray that all of the world will come to believe the one who alone is
The resurrection and the life
HYMN OF THE DAY: ELW #612 “Healer of our Every Ill”
PRAYERS OF INTERCESSION
P: Turning our hearts to God who is gracious and merciful, we pray for the church, the world, and all who are in need.
A brief silence.
God of life, bind your faithful people into one body. Enliven the church with your Spirit and bless the work of those who work for its renewal like Hans Nielsen Hauge, whom we commemorate today
. Accomplish your work of salvation in us and through us, for the sake of the world. Lord, in your mercy,
C: Hear our prayer.
God of life, you love the world you have made and you grieve when creation suffers. Restore polluted lands and waterways. Heal areas of the world ravaged by storms, floods, wildfires, droughts, or other natural disasters. Bring all things to new life. Lord, in your mercy,
C: Hear our prayer.
God of life, show redemption to all who watch and wait with eager expectation: those longing for wars to cease, those waiting for immigration paperwork to finalize, those seeking election, and those in dire need of humanitarian relief. Come quickly with your hope. Lord, in your mercy,
C: Hear our prayer.
God of life, you weep with those who grieve. Unbind all who are held captive by anxiety, despair, or pain receive now the spoken or silent requests
of all others we now remember and lift up to you:
(We pray especially for Marcy Floyd,Connie Morgan, Betty Budds, Charles Long III,, Anne Foster, Marie Mood, Barbara Lyerly, John Fowlkes, Mary Sweat, Elmore Marlow, Ted Bowers, Bob Oswald, Bill Cornwell, Marilyn Stehmeier, Harry Kluttz, and Pooh Kanapaux . . .
). Fill us with compassion and empathy for those who struggle, and keep us faithful in prayer. Lord, in your mercy,
C: Hear our prayer.
God of life, we give thanks for opportunities for this congregation to collaborate with our community in caring for the needs of our neighbors. Strengthen our ties with other local congregations, agencies, and services. Lord, in your mercy,
C: Hear our prayer.
P God of life, show redemption to all who watch and wait with eager expectation especially during this time of global pandemic: those who are sick and their loved ones, those who are at high risk for contagion, and those doing everything they can to slow the spread of the disease, doctors and nurses and all those who risk contagion to provide essential services for the rest of us, and all those whose have faced loss of employment or income, especially those in dire need of humanitarian relief. Come quickly with your hope. Hear us, O God.
C Your mercy is great.
Here other intercessions may be offered.
God of life, we pray for all who have been impacted by the corona virus. Protect all caregivers from infection as they care for the ill; Comfort those who have lost loved ones; Heal those who have contracted the disease; and give us wisdom, patience and understanding as we are kept at a distance from each other and experience the changes in daily life that affect us all. Lord in your mercy,
C: Hear our prayer.
God of life, you are our resurrection. We remember all those who have died and trust that, in you, they will live again. Breathe new life into our dry bones, that we, too, might live with you forever. Lord, in your mercy,
C: Hear our prayer.
According to your steadfast love, O God, hear these and all our prayers as we commend them to you; through Christ our Lord.
P Lord, remember us in your Kingdom and teach us to pray.
C Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name, thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread; and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us; and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever and ever. Amen
P Now is the acceptable time. Now is the day of salvation.
The Lord bless you and keep you.
The Lord make his face shine on you and be gracious to you.
The Lord look upon you with favor and ☩ give you peace.
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