Tears and Mourning

Tears and Mourning

Lectionary: Isaiah 25:6-9, Psalm 24, Revelations 21:1-6a, John 11:32-44

Let us pray:

Lord Jesus Christ, come to us this morning. Fill us with your truth; speak to us, that we might go and love others. May the words of my mouth and the meditations of all our hearts be pleasing in your sight, O Lord, our rock and our redeemer. Amen.

Tears and Mourning

It’s been a difficult week. 

I used to go to church in Squirrel Hill. It was my first year of seminary; the church was maybe three blocks from Tree of Life. We walked past it sometimes, going to lunch after church. Even once I started working in churches, I drove by Tree of Life all the time. 

The first time I saw a picture of the synagogue cordoned off, the unexpectednesss of it was shocking–even with the headlines, even knowing what had happened.

And I knew one of the people who was shot–who survived, thankfully, but was in critical condition most of the week. We shared an office when I volunteered as a hospital chaplain. Our timing would coincide at the end of the day, sometimes, and we would talk. 

There’s been a lot of mourning this week.

Maybe that’s why I was so struck by the readings this week, which all touch on mourning and tears. Maybe that’s why I was so struck by this image of Jesus, coming to visit His sick friend and hearing that he has died–hearing Mary’s accusation–seeing the grief and tears of the other mourners–and of Jesus weeping in grief. 

Three verses later Jesus is going to Lazarus’ tomb. Eight verses later Lazarus is alive again. And yet still Jesus weeps. Still Jesus mourns. He knows what God can do–that God can give life even to the dead–but still He weeps. 

There is so much hope in that. We are promised an end to death and mourning and tears and sorrow–but we are not there yet. We still have to face death and sorrow and mourning and tears–and sorrow in the face of tragedy is not a betrayal of our beliefs. Mourning in the face of death is not an act of faithlessness. We can and should cry. We can and should mourn. We can and should cry out to God with all of our pain, our grief, our rage, our emotions of every kind. God does not tell us to be always happy or to ignore our pain; instead, God cries with us.

God cries with us.

Jesus cries with us, even knowing that the resurrection is coming. And so let us mourn well. Let us cry and grieve. There will come a time when we can embrace God’s promises of new life and healing, when we can feel like they’re true. Resurrection is coming. Healing is coming–but until then, let us mourn what we’ve lost.