Of course, this, too, sounds very dramatic. And I think sometimes all these flowery descriptions, with their beautiful plays on words and their triple meanings can do the Christian faith a disservice. It is requires some unraveling and thinking, even for a lifelong Presbyterian like me.
Today, our scripture lesson was from John and was the story of Jesus eating with Mary and Martha, sisters of Lazarus, whom Jesus had raised from the dead. Whenever I hear about Lazarus, I immediately think of my brother.
When my brother was in a coma, I prayed and prayed for him to be like Lazarus and awaken. This remains my darkest time--the time when I felt evil threatening to engulf me. I remember, friends, how I did not even have anger left for God. I had nothing to say to Him, except to give me what I wanted.
I suppose in several ways He did. David became an organ donor and pieces of him live on. And while David's body died, I do believe his Spirit--the most real pieces of him that are him--moved on to eternal glory with God the Father and Jesus in Heaven.
But still, Martha and Mary are the sisters I envy. Their brother's story does not carry the complication of unraveling how God worked His good. It was just right on display--Lazarus was dead and then he was alive and then he was eating dinner with Jesus.
My brother is dead. There are no more meals for him on this earth.
It's hard to have blind faith--and maybe blind faith is not the right thing to write. What's hard is to not feel a bit bitter or resentful towards Martha and Mary. It is as if I love God, but I don't always like Him. And that feeling is not good and I am sure it is some sort of sin, but I struggle to help myself through it because everyday I ask "Why couldn't my brother be like Lazarus?"
I am pretty sure most people don't walk around with resentment to ancient Biblical sisters. But, I do.
See, it's so much to unravel sometimes and so complicated. But today, when my son Nicholas had his special Communion service after a few weeks of dedicated Communion classes, things felt a little less messy. With his fellow students, Nick went up to the table that sits in our church all the time. It is the table that they use for Communion and as my son remembered, it is the table they use for ashes.
After the service Nick ran to me and said "Mom, that table where I took Communion is the same table that held Uncle Davey's ashes, isn't that special?"
And friends, I forgot about Lazarus and Mary and Martha, and I just thought about my brother, not about his death, but his eternal life. I thought about how he surrounded my son, his nephew, with love and protection and joy. I thought about how my son remembered his uncle as he took the bread and the cup.
The front of the communion table says "In Remembrance of Me."
And if we are one body in Christ then there is nothing to unravel. We take the bread and we take the cup and we simply remember. We remember Christ and we remember our brothers and our sisters who aren't here, but are there with Jesus.
There is nothing that separates us from that love--from start to finish to eternity, we belong to Christ.