Sunday, March 21, 2010
From Somewhere in the Middle of Today's Sermon
And so we can imagine the joyful expressions around the table when Jesus comes back to dine. The sisters have lost a brother, and he has been given back to them. Theirs is not a story of sibling rivalry such as we heard about last week in the story of the prodigal son. Theirs is a story of sibling attachment ripped apart by death. And those of us who have experienced it know that the death of a brother or a sister is a particularly devastating form of loss. I have lost a brother, and my children have lost a brother. A friend stopped me in the grocery several weeks ago and related her heartbreak at the death of her sister. I know that many of you have had similar losses. Our brothers and sisters are, after all, the people with whom we most closely share the formative experiences of our childhood and, when we lose them, a significant part of who we are seems to be taken from us as well. Our brothers and sisters are the people with whom we share some of the biggest challenges of our lives, the deaths of our grandparents and parents. In all of the stories about Mary and Martha and Lazarus, we never hear any reference to parents, and so we can might imagine that these three siblings have suffered those particular losses. Their experiences as the surviving members of their family must have drawn them especially close to one another, and so the joy of the sisters in response to the new life given their brother must have been impossible to contain.