“Resurrection…” — Sermon for Sunday, March 26, 2023

Pastor Matthew Best
8 min readMar 26

(This is the sermon I gave in response to John 11:1–45)

Lent is a time when we are forced to deal with things we would rather not. Like death. Remember how Lent started on Ash Wednesday? We heard the words — “Remember you are dust and to dust you shall return.” We are confronted with our mortality and death, right in our face, quite literally. There’s no avoiding it. It’s meant to be uncomfortable and humbling. To remind us that we are in God’s hands, and we are not in control.

Some cultures that are pretty good at dealing with, talking about, and coping with death. They get the process of grief and mourning. They understand that it takes time to process and that you can’t really go it alone. They build in ritual and community into the process.

And then there’s our culture. We’re pretty good with giving people comfort food — no doubt. But beyond that, we have a corporate expectation that you are to be over the death of someone really close to you, who has been a major part of your life, within 3 days — oh and it shouldn’t impact your work after that. Really?

Let’s be honest, we’re terrible about how we talk about death. We don’t like to use the word — we’d rather talk around it. We have expressions about death like:

  • Someone has passed away or passed on
  • A person has faded away
  • They were on their last leg
  • He had an untimely death.

And then there are the expressions that are said to the people who have lost loved ones. And they are truly meant with the best of intentions. We feel terrible for someone who has lost a loved one to death. And we feel we need to say something. But these common sayings do not help. Trust me on this.

Want to know the best thing you can say? Are you ready? Death sucks. I’m here for you. You don’t have to face this alone. (but only if you really mean it). Or just say — I’m so very sorry for your loss. And then stop. That’s it. Just acknowledge the reality of death, the loss of their loved one and how painful that it is. Don’t try to make it better — you can’t.

In our Gospel reading, we have the serious illness and death of Lazarus. There’s a funeral and a mourning process and ritual along with a communal response that is baked into the story. We have to step out of our cultural context to grasp this because it’s so easy to miss…

Pastor Matthew Best

My name is Matthew Best. I’m an ELCA (Lutheran) pastor who attempts to translate church and churchy stuff into everyday language.