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Today we hear how Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead. Of all the stories unique to Saint John’s gospel, it’s the one most familiar to us. It’s what the Church wants us to focus on right before Holy Week, because Lazarus anticipates Christ’s own Resurrection. But in many ways it’s a difficult story for us, because you and I have trouble believing in miracles, believing in this case that our Lord could bring the dead back to life. Some try to get around its meaning by speculating that Lazarus only appeared to be dead, that he was really just in a deep coma. But that’s unsatisfying, because it’s so obviously an attempt to get around the clear thrust of the passage.

I once was lost but now am found, was blind but now I see.

A stranger is standing in the back door. “I’ve come to see your teacher,” he whispers to Peter. “But it’s ten o’clock at night,” Peter retorts, “and with Passover finally over, we’re all worn out. Come around to the Temple tomorrow; you can see him then.” “No,” the stranger insists, “I’ve got to talk with him right now.”

This prayer comes from Nigeria:


God in heaven, you have helped my life to grow like a tree. Now something has happened. Satan, like a bird, has carried in one twig of his own choosing after another. Before I knew it he had built a dwelling place and was living in it. Today, my Father, I am throwing out both the bird and the nest.*

In today’s gospel reading, we hear the Beatitudes. The Beatitudes begin the Sermon on the Mount, in which Jesus teaches his disciples, the crowds, and us what it means to be a citizen in the Kingdom of God—what it means to be a disciple of Jesus Christ.

Every nutty group in the Episcopal Church sends out a newsletter. Last week I received one with the predictable headline, “The Episcopal Church in Free-Fall.” Then we have The Living Church, a weekly magazine published in Milwaukee that can’t quite decide whether it’s Anglo-Catholic or Evangelical, but is quite certain that it’s unhappy, whatever it is. The pages are filled with angry letters to the editor. “We are a house divided against itself,” a typical one begins. Even our official monthly newspaper, Episcopal Life, encourages this kind of rancorous polemic. Until recently each issue contained a poisonous feature called “Forum,” in which respondents debated a usually trivial question, such as, “How old must children be before they can be admitted to communion?” 

Christians give the term “Epiphany” to a whole season of the Church year, the season we’re in now, extending from the arrival of the Wise Men on January 6th to the beginning of Lent. Each Sunday in this Season of Epiphany focuses on yet another way that God makes his presence known to us. Today it’s Christ’s baptism, when those present saw the Spirit descending on Jesus and heard God’s voice saying, “This is my Son, the Beloved.” For some of them, at least, this was an epiphany, a moment when they came to believe in Jesus.

“Wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, asking, ‘Where is the child who has been born king of the Jews? For we observed his star at its rising, and have come to pay him homage.” The magi knew what they saw—they knew the star meant that the Messiah had been born, but they needed the Word of God in scripture to help them find the place.

Text: “Jesus said to them: ‘Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I send you’”. (John 20:19,20)

Worship Schedule

Sundays
8:00 a.m. Holy Communion
10:00 a.m. Holy Communion
5:30 p.m. Holy Communion
Mondays
9:00 p.m. Compline
Tuesdays
12:15 p.m.
Holy Communion
Wednesdays
5:30 p.m.
Evening Prayer

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