We’re so glad you found our website. Whether you’re visiting us from another part of the world, or from right here in the Huntersville, North Carolina area — welcome!

We’re so glad you found our website. Whether you’re visiting us from another part of the world, or from right here in the Huntersville, North Carolina area — welcome!

We’re so glad you found our website. Whether you’re visiting us from another part of the world, or from right here in the Huntersville, North Carolina area — welcome!

Pastor Paul's Blog

Tears & Faith

The Common Denominator

We don’t like to talk about it. It’s not polite conversation. In fact, it is downright awkward. Sometimes we joke about it so that we don’t end up talking too seriously about it (like what’s the two sure things in life? _____ and taxes). The thing we don’t like to talk about is, you guessed it, death.

But it is important that we talk about it. It really is our common denominator. We will all die. Some die at a ripe old age, but others do not live that long. Some die of “natural causes”, others die from tragic accidents in cars and airplanes, in lakes and rivers, in mines and factories. Many die after long, difficult struggles with disease, others are living seemingly healthy lives one moment and are gone the next. And for the most part we don’t get to choose how we end up dying, or shouldn’t.

This Sunday we are going to continue our sermon series on “Fearless: The Courage to Question” and we are going to talk a bit about death. It is a subject around which there are many questions, difficult questions. We will talk about a rather controversial passage from the Gospel of John. In the 11th Chapter of John is a story about a death, the death of Jesus’s friend Lazarus. It appears from a careful reading of the story that Lazarus was more like a brother to Jesus than a friend. Lazarus’s two sisters, Martha and Mary, were like Jesus’s sisters. And when Lazarus is sick and dying, the sisters send for Jesus, believing he can help Lazarus and heal him before he dies. And you get the impression that when Jesus hears of Lazarus’s sickness he doesn’t stop what he was doing and rush the two miles to Bethany where Lazarus lives. Instead, he delays, and in the delay Lazarus dies.

When Jesus finally does arrive, Martha greets Jesus, then goes and gets Mary. Both of them seem to imply the same thing in their conversation with Jesus. “If you had been here, my brother would not have died!”, they cry. They raise an important and complicated issue. Where is God in the midst of our struggles with the death of people we love?

Have you ever lost someone you loved dearly? I’m thinking we all have. I have. Several people who were especially near and dear to me have died. I confess that I have pondered the question implied in Mary and Martha’s conversation with Jesus. Where were you, Jesus? If you had been here, my loved one wouldn’t have died.

In the story of Lazarus’s death, as Jesus sees the sister’s grief and deep sadness, John records that Jesus wept. I don’t think there is another portion of scripture that records tears as Jesus’s emotional response. But here, John says he weeps. Curious, isn’t it?
So Sunday we are going to talk about death. We may get emotional as this is certainly a subject that touches us deeply and speaks to our emotions. You may be angry about someone’s death. You may be still grieving and deeply saddened. You may have blocked out your feelings on the issue. All of these responses are “normal.” I’ll invite you to come Sunday with whatever emotional response you have. My conviction is that God is able to handle whatever emotions we bring with us. My hope is that we can find a way to ask our questions about death and the presence of God in it, and ask our questions in a way that leads to peace and wholeness.

If you would like to, bring a picture or other reminder of a person you are missing in your life. Be ready and willing to own your feelings associated with death. Be ready to ask the tough questions like Martha and Mary did of Jesus, and see what response we may find.

I’ll hope to see you Sunday.