Twenty-Fourth Sunday after Pentecost/All Saints: Week of November 7, 2021
Begin your devotion time by praying this prayer: God of compassion, you hear us when we pray to you. Teach us to pray in both joy and sorrow, and remind us of your presence, even in moments of sadness and grief. Amen.
Reflect on the Way of Love together: This week’s practice on the Way of Love is PRAY. When you are happy, what kind of prayers do you pray? When you are sad, what kind of prayers do you pray? How are these prayers alike, and how are they different?
Adult and Small Child
Read: John 11:32-44
Reflect: Sad things happen in our lives from time to time. Maybe a friend you love moved away or someone you love died. When we feel sad, so do the people around us. Jesus cried when he heard that Lazarus had died. He was cried because he loved Lazarus and also because he sees that Mary is sad. He loved all the people around them very deeply, so much that he wept when they wept.
In this story, Jesus brings Lazarus back from the dead. That will probably never happen to us, but God can still be with us when we are sad or when we lose someone we love. Jesus shows us that it’s OK to be sad. That God and the people who love us are always there beside us, whether we are happy or angry, sad or joyful.
Respond: In church, we celebrate a special feast day called All Saints. It’s a day when we remember people who have died. Is there anyone you love that you miss? Maybe you just haven’t seen them in a long time. Find a picture of them, or draw a picture. Then post it on the wall. Sit next to it for a while and remember all the good things about them. Think about how much you love them. Have an adult sit with you. Remember that they are still with you in your heart, and that God is with you, too.
- Jeremiah Sierra
Adult and Elementary
Read: John 11:32-44
Reflect: When Mary’s brother, Lazarus, dies, she tells Jesus exactly how she feels. She is sad, angry, and hurt. She even accuses Jesus of not being there – blaming him for Lazarus’ death. A lot of the time, when we pray, we think we have to just say nice things – say thank you to God, or praise God for the good things in our life. But there are parts of our lives that are hard and scary, too.
Mary is able to talk to Jesus so openly because she knows him. She trusts that it’s okay to have hard conversations, and to say what she really thinks. She trusts that Jesus will still love her, even if she’s not just happy and nice all the time.
Part of being a human is having to deal with losing people we love. We face hard things all the time – things that make us feel alone, scared, sad, or angry. These emotions are just a part of life – and God wants us to share our lives through prayer.
Respond: When someone dies, we can feel a mix of emotions. Mary felt angry with Jesus because her brother died – and maybe that’s something you can understand. Have you ever felt mad at God? Or wondered why God let something bad happen to someone you love?
When we have those hard feelings, it’s okay to take them to God in prayer. All prayers don’t need to be about just happy or easy emotions. We can tell God when we’re sad, or angry, or scared, or confused.
What are some times when you’ve doubted God, or wondered why God let something happen? Talk about that time with someone you trust, a family member or close friend. Ask them to help pray with you about it, and bring all of the hard feelings to God. Don’t worry about saying something wrong, because God loves and accepts ALL of you – even the parts that feel hard.
- Jazzy Bostock
Adult and Youth
Read: John 11:32-44
Reflect: Mary and Jesus aren’t in the middle of God’s great joys in today’s reading. Mary is weeping, those who came with her are weeping, eventually Jesus is weeping, too. Mary isn’t wrong for grieving her brother, or for telling Jesus how she feels about the situation. She’s one of our “blessed saints of virtuous and godly living” from this week’s collect. What if grief is part of godly living? What if telling the truth about painful times is a virtue?
Mary gets her brother Lazarus back, and so often the stories of our griefs don’t end that way. We might feel angry when Jesus doesn’t return our loved ones to us, or immediately restore our hopes. It’s okay to feel angry (notice Jesus doesn’t tell Mary her feelings are wrong!) The psalmist says, “Weeping may linger for the night, but joy comes with the morning.” (Psalm 30:5, NRSV) We don’t know how long the night will last or what the morning will look like, but we can trust joy to return. Grief might still be with us, but surprising as it may seem, joy and grief can live together.
Respond: “If you had been here, they would not have died!” is a good prayer, totally acceptable to Jesus. If you are feeling sad or confused or angry, you can show those feelings to God in prayer. Mary shows us that it’s okay to say, “hey! Where were You when I needed you?” I don’t know why sometimes miracles happen and other times they don’t. I do know that it’s always okay to ask, and not just ask but object and protest and complain to God to restore what is broken and lost. If you feel upset this week, write a prayer that brings all your feelings to God.
- Di McCullough
Adult and Adults
Read: John 11:32-44
Reflect: Mary and Martha are mourning the death of their brother Lazarus. They are filled with many emotions in the midst of their grief. One being that they are angry at Jesus. You can hear that in Mary’s voice as she proclaims, “Lord, if you had been here, our brother would not have died.” (John 11:32, NRSV) Jesus understands their reactions yet Jesus says calm in the midst of the commotion. He simply goes about doing his business. And before we know it, Lazarus is raised from the dead. Jesus’ action of raising Lazarus shows us the power of God and how life not death have the final word when God is in control. I am reminded of a favorite quote by Clarence W. Hall, “Easter says you can put death in the grave, but it won’t stay there.” In other words, only God has the power to overcome death and the grave. And in this instance, God is using Jesus to raise Lazarus and show us this power.
Respond: Pray! Death is so difficult because it separates us on this side of heaven. Often though we do not experience death until someone close to us dies. And we are not prepared for how to go through the grief process. Call or visit a local funeral home and ask them to tell you about their ministry of walking with grieving families. Ask the funeral director what the most important thing for families to prepare for death. As you reflect on this experience together, make a list of prayer petitions. You can also find someone in your faith community who is grieving. Bring them a meal one evening to help them during their time of loss.
- Tara Ulrich