Almighty God, you alone can bring into order the unruly wills and affections of sinners: Grant your people grace to love what you command and desire what you promise; that, among the swift and varied changes of the world, our hearts may surely there be fixed where true joys are to be found; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.Readings from the Revised Common Lectionary:
Old Testament: Ezekiel 37:1-14Lectionary and Lenton Reflections:
Psalm: Psalm 130
Epistle: Romans 8:6-11
Gospel: John 11:1-45
From Missio Alliance: Beyond Eros and Icons of the Age to Come: Lenten Anthropology
Ekklesia Project: God and Graves (on Ezekiel 37 and John 11)
In Ezekiel, God situates bones, strapping them together with tendons and flesh. He breathes life into re-membered bodies, and says, “You will know that I am the Lord, when I have opened your graves and caused you to come up out of your graves, my people” (37:13).
In John, the mourners make their way to the grave of a man Jesus loved, and Jesus takes a page from the Triune playbook. He calls Lazarus back from the dead because of and to prove who He is. God is life.
John and Ezekiel offer an important corrective that both foreshadows and prepares us for Holy Week, all the while giving us license to make bold claims. The result of the Good News is the re-membering and resurrection of stinking-dead and real-dead bodies, individual and corporal – because God is life. This is utterly foreign to our creaturely existence bound by space and time. Unrelatable and sometimes unbelievable, except for the fact that God became like us – not to prolong life on this side of death, but to offer life and relationship on the other side of it.Robert Jenson at The Brazos Blog on Ezekiek 37:1-14
The Lord puts the question to Ezekiel: “Son of a man, what do you think? Can the dead live again?”
Ezekiel has no answer; this knowledge is beyond a son of a man. But Ezekiel does know that the Lord is the giver of life; our passage is pervaded by reminiscence of the Lord’s first vivification of humankind (Gen. 2:7). And he knows that therefore the Lord can answer the question yes or no as he chooses. So he throws the question back.
For answer he receives an implicit yes: a command to prophesy life to the dead. Even in the nonbeing of death the bones can hear him, because the word given the prophet is the same word that gives being and life in the first place, that addresses precisely “things that are not” (1 Cor. 1:28).
Thus Ezekiel is to do nothing less than speak the dead back to life (Ezek. 37:4–6): we arrive at the extreme possibility of the prophets’ general assignment “to pluck up and to pull down, . . . to build and to plant” ( Jer. 1:9–10). In the vision, Ezekiel speaks as commanded and the dead are raised (Ezek. 37:7–10).Ben Myers at 'Faith and Theology': Faith in the Dark: Lenten Meditations on the Creed
The holy catholic church
Not a religion, a collective principle, a theory of social organisation. Not character-forming practices. Not an alternative to the nation state (not an alternative to anything). But an assembly whose boundaries are as wide as the human race. Which is holy not because of the achievements of any of its members but because of the one who raises it into being out of nothing and who descends upon it in tongues of fire, translating human voices into tongues of angels and earthly gifts into heavenly mysteries.
The communion of saints
Not sympathy for the dead. Not a cult of memory. Not the bitter-sweet nostalgia for what is gone. But one human community, the dead among the living and the living with the dead, the ancestor and the little child, light-dwellers and worshippers of light, all assembled to partake of holy mysteries, unbound in their communion by anything that binds.
The forgiveness of sins
Not therapy, self-help, or positive thinking. Not the ability to make this vale of tears a little more bearable. But a forgiveness that reaches to the roots of my being, since that is where the problem lies. There will come a day when I will hear an absolution so final and so comprehensive that there is nothing left to do except to hear its verdict and be glad. On that day I will learn to love as I am loved. On that day even the great mistakes that have ruled my life will seem more precious to me than any perfection. On that day I will recognise my enemy as my brother. And those who have wronged me most I will love the most.A Lenten Prayer from Henri Nouwen:
But how can I ever really celebrate Easter without observing Lent? How can I rejoice fully in your Resurrection when I have avoided participating in your death? Yes, Lord, I have to die—with you, through you, and in you—and thus become ready to recognize you when you appear to me in your resurrection. There is so much in me that needs to die: false attachments, greed and anger, impatience and stinginess. O Lord, I am self-centered, concerned about myself, my career, my future, my name and fame. Often I even feel that I use you for my own advantage. How preposterous, how sacrilegious, how sad! But yes, Lord, I know it is true. I know that often I have spoken about you, written about you and acted in your name for my own glory and for my own success. Your name has not led me to persecution, oppression, or rejection. Your name has brought me rewards! I see clearly now how little I have died with you, really gone your way and been faithful to it. O Lord, make this Lenten season different from the other ones. Let me find you again. Amen.