Editor’s note: Mary, Martha, and Lazarus of Bethany were friends of Jesus. This year, a number of christian denominations commemorate them on July 29.
Then Jesus, again greatly disturbed, came to the tomb. It was a cave, and a stone was lying against it. Jesus said, ‘Take away the stone.’ Martha, the sister of the dead man, said to him, ‘Lord, already there is a stench because he has been dead for four days.’ Jesus said to her, ‘Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?’ So they took away the stone. And Jesus looked upwards and said, ‘Father, I thank you for having heard me. I knew that you always hear me, but I have said this for the sake of the crowd standing here, so that they may believe that you sent me.’ When he had said this, he cried with a loud voice, ‘Lazarus, come out!’ The dead man came out, his hands and feet bound with strips of cloth, and his face wrapped in a cloth. Jesus said to them, ‘Unbind him, and let him go.’ ~ John 11:38-44, NRSV
God of resurrection hope, we spend much of our lives living in tombs of our own making. We lay still in the tomb of our prejudices, in the tomb of our helplessness, in the tomb of our broken relationships, in the tomb of our personal and institutional sin. In darkness, we often do not realize that we live among death and decay. But sometimes, we catch a glimmer of the light and Life you offer when you call us out of our tombs to live this new life as your people.
You call the people of Nicaragua out of the tomb of violence and oppression. Sustain those who protest, give them courage to stand up for the helpless and hopeless among them. Fill President Daniel Ortega, his government and military leaders with your compassion, so that they might end their brutal crackdown against dissenters and remember their roots as a movement that overthrew a dictator. Bring comfort to those who mourn the deaths of over 350 people having lost their lives in the past 90 days of protest.
You call people with privilege and resources out of the tomb of self-imposed helplessness. We watch the suffering of your children from afar, shrugging our shoulders and resigning ourselves to their extreme hardship. Bring creativity to the leaders of our relief organizations and to people of conscience around the world. Use our communal peer pressure to bring justice, transparency, and healing to the democratic election and transition of power in Pakistan, where those committing violence and killing use fear to manipulate the polls.
Help us to use our media technology to connect needs with resources, so that the 6,600 people, mostly ethnic minorities, displaced by the dam collapse and flooding in Laos might find relief from unexpected and grace-filled places around the world. Comfort those families of the many missing and 24 known victims.
You call the people of Kenya out of the tomb of dehumanization and greed. Give comfort to the thousands of impoverished people as their government destroys homes to build a highway, violating its promises to delay the demolitions. Touch the hearts of those in power over this situation to see the human suffering of those who reside in slums and now have even less. Bring us to understand that progress which ignores humanity and cuts down the least among us is not progress at all.
You call our global community out of the tomb of abuse and misuse of your creation. As average temperatures rise around the world and as deadly wildfires rage in Greece, Sweden, and the United States, remind us of our responsibility to one another and to the Earth. Give boldness to leaders who seek to bring widespread change to the way we use the resources you give us, so that all people, all life can thrive and flourish.
You call us all out of the tomb of our sin and isolation from others. Unbind our hands and feet from all that holds us back from doing your will. Uncover our faces to the needs in your world and to the light of your love. Then let us go out, renewed with the life you pour into us and equipped to share that life with all the world.