This Sunday I have asked all of you to bring a picture of a saint in your life that has made a great impact on your faith. For me, the saint I always remember on this day is my grandmother, Joan Squires. She was dedicated to her family, and devoted to her church. She modeled faith, grace, and mercy to me. Wouldn’t you know all those feelings and emotions are all wrapped up in her kitchen table? You see, my grandmother passed away when I was a teenager so this is one of the last things I have to remember her by. This table has seen better days. Nelson has glued and re-glued it together many times. It was in my first apartment at Duke in Durham, North Carolina and it has followed me all the way to Flint Hill. It is so hard for us to let go isn’t it?
In our Gospel lesson for this Sunday we hear a story about two sisters who are unable to let their brother Lazarus go, even though he has passed away. We have heard about these two sisters before: Martha and Mary. You may remember Martha was the typical type A trying to get the house perfect for Jesus, and Mary was the type B free spirit who just wanted to be near Jesus and sit at his feet. This story from Luke 10 shows us that these sisters already had developed a relationship with Jesus and he knew their brother Lazarus also. Martha had sent word to Jesus that her brother was gravely ill, but Jesus did not come immediately. During that time, Lazarus ended up dying and had already been put in the grave. The sisters were deep in grief when Jesus showed up and offered them healing.
I hope you will come this Sunday to hear the end of this sermon as I think it will bring you comfort, especially if you are in the midst of grief. You are not alone.
Healing God, comfort those who are grieving a recent loss or a loss from many years ago. Gracious God, we do thank you for the gifts of relationships and love. Although it is very painful when we lose loved ones, the time we had with them outweighs our grief. We thank you also for your promise of eternal life and resurrection, where we will one day be reunited with those we love through our faith in Jesus Christ. Bless us as we celebrate the saints this Sunday so that we do not forget the powerful lessons they taught us and the grace they embodied. Help us to continue to build up the kingdom of God on earth until Christ comes again in final victory. Finally, thank you that when we celebrate Holy Communion, we feast at the same table with the communion of saints. In the name of Jesus Christ we pray. Amen.