A young pastor, it has been said, received his first church.  The sign in front of the sanctuary could have said Main Street Methodist or Main Street Hospice, the place was dead either way. Just more tears to be shed, caskets to be closed, funerals to be performed.

So the clergyman asked for a new assignment.  His boss replied, “I’ll pass along your request to the Bishop, the one who decides whether you stay or go, but remember she still believes that resurrection happens everyday.”

John 11: 32-44

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

Where does resurrection begin?

Congregational responses:
Wherever the world’s sin has put someone in the grave.
In this life every bit as much as the next.
In all the places people are bound and tied.

It’s not where Mary, Martha and the mourners believe, where new life only happens, if it happens at all, on the last day.  That the kingdom will come someday, that the Good News is only good in heaven.

No!  It begins where the weeping is the wettest, where the heaviest stones are muscled upon, where the stench of decay reeks the worst.  If you want to find an empty tomb, then you’ve got to spend your life of faith in the cemetery; if you want to get to Easter, then you’ve got to go through the graveyard listening for the calling of Christ to liberate the Lazarus’ among us:

Unbind the woman because I created her equal in my image.
Unbind the Ethiopian because I baptize in black.
Unbind the man and the man, the woman and woman because love is never a four letter word. Love is never a four letter word.  Love is never a four letter word.

An evangelist was screaming, “Jesus only lived for the predestined.”  From the back pew, a whisper spoke, “ALL.”  “Jesus,” the preacher continued, “only died for the elect.” The whisper got louder saying, “ALL.”  “Jesus only rose again for the few.”  The whisper grew to a shout, affirming “ALL!”

All are welcome at this table; all are welcome at this altar; all are welcome at this church because all means all.