Sermon for Lent V [Corrected]

Lent V, March 13, 2005

“This Sickness is not unto Death”
John 11:1-53

In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
It is quiet now. Or maybe it is just drowned out by the silence. But if you listen closely, you can hear it sliding under doors and windows. Do you hear it? The groaning? It is the groaning of creation itself, bearing the weight of millions infected with the sickness unto death: the living dead. It is a sickness that constantly manifests itself in new ways. We could fill hours with examples of the disease in this world, but anyone who reads the news can talk about that. The musician Bruce Cockburn has a song called “You’ve Never Seen Everything” in which he catalogs horrific crimes that seem to have no explanation or meaning.
Faced with the questions of skeptics and atheists, what possible meaning can we attach to the act of blowing up a garbage truck full of explosives with the express purpose of maiming and killing? What answer is satisfying in response to the news that a woman killed another woman in order to take a baby from her womb? Who here is up to the task of explaining why genocide happens, whether in Nazi Germany, Soviet Russia, or the Sudan? Every attempt at explanation rings hollow and callous, no matter how it invokes God’s purpose or His mysterious ways. It is certainly not unthinkable that, faced with the enormity of suffering around the world every day, a splinter of doubt would find its way into the skin of your faith.
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