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Reflecting with Lazarus

Today I was at the EMBA ministers’ quiet day with the BUGB president, Revd Dr John Weaver, which was centred on the seven predicative I AM sayings of Jesus and the accompanying signs as found in the gospel of John. We were invited to explore the texts in different ways at different times during the day, including with the seven signs to try to see it through the eyes of one of the participants. I opted for Lazarus (as did the person sitting next to me!) and tried to do this not as him reflecting back afterwards but to try to be him experiencing what happened – not easy as I’ve never been dead!  I found it a compelling exercise and whilst what I scrawled – and have transcribed and extended - is not especially original or profound it has challenged me to think more.

I feel so weak, so ill – I ache all over and I so long to be well again.

I feel so powerless –

No strength to eat or drink, yet my mouth is dry

I am uncomfortable but I cannot summon the energy to move

When will I be well?

I long to be well again, to find my strength renewed, to be made whole and clean and free like all those others…

I call out for help… and nothing happens

I cry for healing… and there is silence

I wait for his coming… and no one comes

No reply…


I am weaker still, and weaker…

Those around grow pale and anxious

Helpless and fearful

The light dims

The effort to breath ceases

Release comes as I slip into death’s embrace.

All is still

No pain

No thoughts

No pressures



The tomb is still and quiet


Days pass – or is it eternity?

Time is no more





Silence and stillness


A voice breaks the silence

Crashes through the stillness

‘Lazarus, come out!’


Not a request.

A command to be obeyed cuts through the stillness

Shatters the silence

Breaks through the peace

And ends the rest.


I am compelled to action


Nerve and sinew quicken

Lungs fill with the stale, dank air of the tomb

Forced to my feet


I stand


Following the voice I cannot see –

My face veiled -

My body bound in cloths

Stumbles towards the sound,

Feels the heat of the living world,

Smells the scent of life,

Inhales clean, vibrant air.


Voices, deafeningly loud, fill my ears

Hands reach to tug away the cloth from my face

Arms steady my unsteadiness


My eyes, dazzled by the brightness


And see

His face


Amidst the noise,

The frenetic activity,

The smells

Is stillness.



They guide me home

To the place where I died

And there everything is reversed






Clung to


Spoken over and about







Death must be faced again


But first,

Life must be resumed


Is now the time to live differently?

To do those things I didn’t do before?

To be more spiritual? More holy?

Is it a ‘second chance’?


And must I die again?

And must I live again?

And must I pass though the gateway to life

That is the pathway of death?


Must I do?

Must I be?



Don’t cling to me!

I am not who or what I was –

I am not yet what I shall become


This new life…

This old life restarted…

This new expectation…

This new knowledge of what lies beyond now…

This status as object of curiosity…

This being a miracle, no of being a sign

Is scary, confusing, bewildering


I had adapted -

Well almost -

To death;

And now I must live

Give me space and time to adjust


[time passes]


It is good to be here tonight with those I love best

Martha’s cooking tastes so good –

Did I ever appreciate the subtle flavours and textures she labours over each day?

Mary’s perfume fills the air –

Had I ever grasped the depth of love she has for Jesus, the risks she takes to express it?

And Jesus, eating, talking, enjoying, challenging

Does he know how lost, alone and abandoned I felt when I called and he never came?

Can I ever comprehend why having seemingly left me to die he drew me back to life?


I must face death again –

Not today, but one day


I have no way of knowing how it feel

How it will come

Who will care for me

Wash me

Wrap me

Bury me


But now I no longer fear

For death is as birth

A transition point in life


Beyond that final grave a voice will call

‘Lazarus, come out!’

And I will stand and walk

Not back to this life

But, finally free, into the life of eternity…


Don't read too much into my choice of Lazarus - I was merely curious to discover where my thoughts went


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