Warren Pettine, April 12, 2020
Based on readings from: Ezekiel 37:1-14, Psalm 130 and John 11:1-45
A multitude of bones rising from a field. Lazarus, with the smell of three days a corpse, is called from the tomb. This week’s readings hold such terrifying images, made all the more stark by the pandemic. But it is a passing line in the Psalm that strikes me as the most powerful: “For there is forgiveness with you; therefore you shall be feared.” This line speaks to the fear of being seen as we truly are. Furthermore, forgiveness means leaving behind the sins for which we are forgiven. Being exposed and made to change. That certainly is a position that makes me tremble.
But luckily, we are not alone in the process. In the reading from Ezekiel, the bones given new flesh and new breath represent the community of Israel in exile, hoping for return. Likewise, Lazarus is not called from the tomb to stand by himself. He is returned to his family and friends. To be seen and forgiven is scary, but we do so in the presence of people who care.
For two and a half years, I have found that community at Grace Church. On the monthly Habitat for Humanity builds, I am surrounded by people who actively take the time to make something for others. Additionally, the 20s and 30s group has been a source of positive friendship I can depend on, and that is so hard to find in New York. As we all move into the isolation of quarantine, I look forward to seeing my friends via the 20s and 30s events hosted on video chats. And when we are able to come together again, I look forward to volunteering at Habitat alongside my fellow parishioners. These communities, and the wider community of Grace Church, have made it possible for me to grow as a person and in my relationship with God. Though it is still difficult to be seen and forgiven, I am confident because I am not alone.