hope for lost people

For Sunday, April 10, 2011

Fifth Sunday in Lent (“Spring”)

Are you lost? “Lost? No. Temporarily disoriented, maybe.” If the person speaking is a male with a significant other who is female this is where she says, “Yes, we’re lost.”

This week’s readings describe what it means to be lost spiritually and how one can be found spiritually. In the first reading, Ezek. 37:1-14, the Lord shows Ezekial a valley full of dry bones. This picture describes what it really means to be lost. The bones, having a modicum of self-awareness, say, “Our bones are dried up, and our hope is lost, and we are cut off completely” (Ezek. 37:11). To be lost spiritually means that your bones are dried up, your hope is lost, and you are completely cut off from what you know you need to live. Ever felt this way? The solution to the problem is to have the presence of God in our lives: I . . . will put breathe in you, and you will live” (Ezek. 37:6).

This week’s second and third readings confirm and expand upon this. In the second reading, Psalm 130, the Psalmist says, “Out of the depths I cry to you, O Lord.” Translation: “Wow, I really am lost. This is not good.” The metaphor then gets spelled out: the reason we feel lost spiritually is because of our sin, meaning our active rebellion against God or passive indifference toward him. Being found means being forgiven of this sin. This is the standing offer from God to each of us. “For with the Lord is steadfast love and great power to redeem” (Psalm 130:7).

The same point is made, albeit with some humor, and this week’s third reading, John 11. It’s like a Monty Python sketch. Jesus says, “Well boys, my friend Lazarus, back there in Bethany where we were almost stoned to death, has fallen asleep, so we need to go wake him up.” His disciples point out insightfully, “Uh, Jesus, if he has fallen asleep, he will eventually wake up . . . on his own.” Jesus then explains that Lazarus isn’t asleep as in “temporarily disoriented”. He’s ASLEEP . . . as in D-E-A-D. This is our spiritual condition if God has not yet breathed life into us.

This week’s final reading, Romans 8:6-11, makes clear how we can move from being lost (a.k.a. D-E-A-D) to being found (a.k.a. alive and in peace). All we need do is invite Jesus to dwell in us. “If the Spirit who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ from the dead (God the Heavenly Father) will give life to your mortal bodies also through his Spirit that dwells in you” (Rom 8:11).

Have you yet invited the Spirit (this is the Holy Spirit) to come dwell in your life? If not, why not do so right now? If you have, rejoice in the life you now have and go and share it with those you would like to see get found.

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