Lenten Greetings in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit! Amen.
The Holy Gospel according to St. John, the 11th chapter.
Glory to you, oh Lord!
“Now a certain man was ill, Lazarus of Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. Mary was the one who anointed the Lord with perfume and wiped his feet with her hair; her brother Lazarus was ill. “So the sisters sent a message to Jesus, “Lord, he whom you love is ill.” But when Jesus heard it, he said, “This illness does not lead to death; rather it is for God’s glory, so that the Son of God may be glorified through it.” Accordingly, though Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus,” after having heard that Lazarus was ill, he stayed two days longer in the place where he was.
“Then after this, he said to the disciples, “Let us go to Judea again.” The disciples said to him, “Rabbi, the Jews were just now trying to stone you, and are you going there again?” Jesus answered, “Are there not twelve hours of daylight? Those who walk during the day do not stumble, because they see the light of this world.
After saying this, he told them, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep, but I am going there to awaken him.” The disciples said to him, “Lord, if he has fallen asleep, he will be all right.” Jesus, however, had been speaking about his death, but they thought that he was referring merely to sleep. Then Jesus told them plainly, “Lazarus is dead. For your sake I am glad I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him.” Thomas, who was called the Twin, said to his fellow disciples, “Let us also go, that we may die with him.”
The Gospel of our Lord.
Praise to you, oh Christ!
Grace and peace are yours from God our Father and from His Son Jesus Christ our Lord! Amen.
According to Florida Health’s webpage, as of yesterday, we have had over thirty-seven hundred cases of Covid-19 and fifty-four deaths. This could grow fast but there is tremendous cooperation from the people staying home. This gives us lots of hope. We had to stop our daily routines in order to lower the curve as fast as possible.
In our gospel for today, Jesus, having received the news that his dear friend has died, instead of rushing there like we most likely would have done, he just stayed where he was for two more days. It is as if he were taking a break from his miracle workings. This is because he was not necessarily about DOING miracles, but instead, HE WAS BEING the miracle. God’s name was to be glorified through Him.
Leonard Sweets suggests that at Lazarus’ tomb Jesus gave two commands: one for Lazarus to come out, and the other one to his friends to untie him. There are things that we must do ourselves and for ourselves.
As we all are cooperating to combat this pandemic, I recommend we watch, listen and reflect on the many online opportunities we have to nurture our faith. I continue to strongly recommend we abstain from Holy Communion unless it is a Spiritual Communion, similar to the one encouraged by Saint Thomas of Aquinas. Reasons? We don’t want to find out later that we were not in accordance with our Use of the Means of Grace or our Lutheran Confessions. It is not that other Bishops or I am closed-minded, no. We are still looking for ways to reconcile our theology and our current times, we are not there yet. But whatever we do now will create a precedent that could bring future problems, including serious financial ones. If pastors opt to do some kind of Holy Communion, against my recommendation, I will not sanction them but it is solely their responsibility and please understand I am not giving permission either. There currently are legal implications in some cases, and theological implications that could hinder our ecumenical dialogues as well.
Above all, whatever your local congregation decides to do, be certain that Christ is accompanying all of us. By keeping safe, we are doing our part. May God protect us all.
Let us pray,
Loving and caring God, we pray for the many health care officials and staff, and chaplains that are in alert all over the world due to this Covid-19. Help us to lower the curve and to put our trust in you healer of all. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.
Gathered into one by the Holy Spirit let us pray as Jesus taught us:
Our Father, who art in Heaven, hallowed by thy name. Thy Kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us; and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For thine is the Kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever and ever. Amen
The Lord bless you and keep you. The Lord’s face shines on you with grace and mercy. The Lord look upon you with favor and + give you peace. Amen.
+ Bp. Pedro
Rev. Pedro Suarez, Bishop
Florida-Bahamas Synod, ELCA