John 11

Ashes to Fire – Midweek Reflections

If you’ve ever been in a position of preaching, teaching Sunday School, or leading a small group within the church, you find that you inevitably come across passages when it feels like God is speaking directly to you, and those you’ll be leading/preaching to will be the recipients of that exchange between you and God. For me, this appears to be one of those weeks.

If you call Fenton Church of the Nazarene your home church, and you’ve been following along in our Ashes to Fire devotional, you might have noticed that this coming Sunday, we’ll be in John 11, the raising of Lazarus from the dead, and Jesus’ proclamation that HE is the resurrection and the life.

It’s certainly an interesting time to be diving into this passage as we’re still a few weeks out from Easter…Resurrection Sunday (we’ll get into that a bit on Sunday). But, it’s also an interesting time to dive into this passage because of events that have happened in the peripheral spheres of my life.

Some of you know, but before I came to FCN, I was a solo pastor at a small town in Northern Michigan. We loved our church, and we loved our town. It was one of those communities where everyone seems to know everyone, and the people unite to support their own. And this past week, hardship and tragedy hit that community. And even though it wasn’t our home for long, and even though we’re displaced now, my heart is still heavy.

This past week, a family within that community had to say goodbye to their 7 year old son, whose body could no longer fight the cancer that was ravaging it. He fought it bravely, valiantly, courageously, and he inspired many (myself included) who didn’t have a direct relationship with him. And even though we moved midway through his fight, and even though our church had no direct contact with his family, we still feel the impact. One moment that stands out to me is how my cross-country kids decided that they wanted to dedicate their season to this boy, and for the last half of the season, we gave a moment of silence and prayer before each race, and then we ran hard, knowing he was fighting even harder. And to watch from Facebook updates the bravery and courage of this young man, and to see how he united so many people, has been incredible to watch.

And so, as I’m sitting down to prepare for this Sunday, one question above all others plagues my mind: how?

  • If I were preaching this passage this coming week in our old community, how would I preach it?
  • If I knew that a young couple would be attending this Sunday, and they’ve just come out of mourning a miscarriage as they try to start a family, and they’ve had to say goodbye to their son or daughter at the same time they’re saying hello, how would I preach this?
  • If I knew someone would be sitting in our church Sunday morning, and they’ve recently lost a beloved friend or family member, how would I preach this?

And so, as I continue to prepare for Sunday, I want to encourage you to prepare as well.

  • What does it mean that Jesus is the resurrection and the life?
  • What does it mean for our lives now?
  • What does it mean for our lives later?

Side note: it’s not just the pastors who should be preparing their hearts for Sunday mornings! 🙂

And if you’re free this Sunday, and maybe you’ve been going through a rough spot, or maybe you’re mourning the recent death of a loved one, I hope that you’d consider joining us. And I hope that this week might be an encouragement to you, as we look not only to burning away another blind spot within us, but as we also look forward to the cross, and to Resurrection Sunday.

following His leading,
~ Pastor Joe