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Sunday Devotion: 29 March 2020, Fifth Sunday in Lent

Sunday Devotions

What is your answer?

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Written by clergy and lay people across our Diocesan community, ‘Sunday Devotions’ is a column of short reflections based on a Lectionary reading of the day, suitable for small group discussion or personal use.

Main Readings: Ezekiel 37.1-14; Psalm 130; Romans 8.6-11; John 11.1-45

Supplementary Readings: Psalm 71.1-14; 2 Corinthians 11.21-31; Exodus 6.2-13; Psalm 131; Matthew 27.32-56

“Jesus said to her [Martha], “I am the resurrection and the life. Those who believe in me, even though they die, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?” (John 11.25-26)

During the 1990s, when I was a Rector of Wandal Parish in Rockhampton, I took a newly-ordained priest to a funeral that I was presiding over to provide him with some additional training. While the ‘Funeral Service’ in our Prayer Book omits the text “Do you believe this?”, at the start of the service I included this question in the Gospel reading, as this is what I was trained to do in my formation. Later the new priest commented, “When you added that question, it really challenged me.”

This passage of Scripture is one of the seven great “I am” statements of our Lord that are found in John’s Gospel. It has been said that the longest journey some people make in life is 33 centimetres, which is the distance in the average adult from the brain to the heart. This journey requires moving from knowing about the promise of eternal life, to really believing the resurrection in our hearts and living it in our lives.

From my study of theology, I was aware of the ‘academic’ aspects of this text. However, it was not until my brother was accidentally killed that this text moved from being something I studied to a reality in my life. While it is difficult to put into words, I had the assurance of eternal life – in that my brother was with God. We continue to grow in our understanding and appreciation of God’s gift of eternal life to us, as we grow in relationship with him.

Just as Jesus asked Martha, he asks us, “Do you believe this?”

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