Religion

THE REV. SAYS: And Lazarus just laughed

Posted: Dec. 2, 2017 12:01 am

Life is always bigger than we thought. We look at the starry heavens, and field glasses reveal what the naked eye cannot see.

A powerful telescope shows us more than the field glasses. And then the scientists come up with more wonders: There are stars in the gaps. And then wonder of wonders, there are myriads of additional stars in the gaps beyond the gaps!

In the play "Our Town" by Thornton Wilder, a girl and a boy are talking about a letter addressed to "Grover's Corners, Sutton County, New Hampshire, the United States of America, Continent of North America, Western Hemisphere, the Earth, the Solar System, the Universe, the Mind of God ..." And the boy whispers in awe, "Well what do you know ... what do you know?"

Again and again in our world, we fail to realize how big life is and the greatness of the God who made it.

Death comes to a friend, or a neighbor, or to thousands of tragic victims of war or plague, and we say to ourselves, "Why can't God stop the sorrow, the hurting, the tragedies?" "Isn't God big enough to stop it?"

Bad people seem to go around as they please, killing and hurting, and doing evil. They look for thorny crowns and purple robes. And they hurl a ghastly contradiction such as a cross in the face of God, and go around acting as though they had won.

But they have not won because God says a thunderous "no" at every gleeful crucifixion. People reject God, they poke fun at his people and his work in the world, and think they have the last word.

There is an interesting story by Eugene O'Neill called "Lazarus Laughed" and it says that the brother of Mary and Martha came forth bound hand and foot with the grave-cloths. And as they unbound him, they heard him laughing softly, as out of a vision, a man in love with God who knew that there was no death. And then the story goes on to say that when he heard about the death of Jesus upon the cross that he began to laugh a low musical laugh. Martha and Mary cursed him. They thought he was possessed.

You see, the world with all its pygmy people could not understand this Jesus. Indeed, they could not tolerate him, and so they put him to death. And Lazarus laughed because he had caught a glimpse of how God's ways are different than man's ways.

And he saw how death was not victorious, and that the grave had no sting. Lazarus laughed at the absurdity of trying to box God and real "life" into an earthen grave.

People scoffed and mocked. They said, "If you are the Christ, come down from the cross." And today, people say: "If you are God, then stop the wars, stop the anguish. Lord, can't you see we are hurting? Can't you see that the end of the world is coming?"

But our end seems to be his beginning. We see through a glass darkly. There is so much more, and Lazarus just laughs.

 

Francis Guither, a pastor for 46 years, is the author of seven books. Guither is retired and lives in Quincy at Good Samaritan Home with his wife Katharine. His most recent church was Carthage United Methodist.

 

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