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The spot for the good news, the good word, the quick reports of the many, many wonderful news items I hear all the time and want to share with the rest of you. Expect to find the good news when you come to check out "what’s the good word?"

Friday, April 8, 2011

Sit

Meanwhile, let's revisit Lazarus' story here.
I suggested yesterday that we need to "sit" with this story a bit longer, not rushing ahead to the happy ending, much as we might want to.

This is a family story. Martha and Mary are really important to the early Christian church. They show up in two of the gospels.You'll remember the story in Luke where Jesus was being entertained in their home. Martha was being the good hostess, slaving away in the kitchen while Mary listened to Jesus, chatting in the parlor and not remembering her proper place as a good Jewish woman. There was no mention of their kid brother Lazarus in that story. Lazarus arrives in John's gospel.

Commentaries suggest the sisters must have been important. John introduces Mary as "the woman who anointed Jesus" but if we're reading carefully, we might notice that hasn't "yet" happened in Jesus' story. And yet it is such an identifier that the gospel writer can't help but mention it now. Followers of Jesus knew who the woman was! She's one of those women who don't do what they're supposed to. An "uppity woman"!

Now we find the family in mourning for their brother who has died. Our modern ears hear the story differently than those first century ears heard it. Their brother has died. It is four days after has was buried; the good Jewish family is "sitting shiva" and grieving. We may have wondered about the crowds around. Of course there were people. They are coming to provide for the women who must do nothing for themselves for seven days. They can't leave the house. It is the required mourning ritual.

That is what Mary does. She stays inside as is proper. This time it is Martha who rushes our to meet Jesus. This time it is Martha who is "uppity" as it is entirely improper for her to leave the house to meet this visitor, no matter how close a friend he is. She is the one who is behaving unconventionally. She is the one to speak bluntly to Jesus and then to return and bring Mary into the conversation.

It is Martha who is the first woman in scripture to identify Jesus as the Messiah. But she is the practical one who suggests it may not be such a good idea to open the tomb. Yes, she believes, but really is this possible?

And Jesus? What does Jesus do? He weeps. He too for a time sits with the grief that has come to this family he loves.

There is just so much more in this story than these few words can tell. Let us sit with it for a bit and let us change us as it will.

Posted by Marion

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