How do we respond when faced with death and dying? Many of us will freeze and do nothing, afraid that we will get it wrong. I was reminded this week of how difficult it is to get it right, with the news that Rachael Bland has died. She was a newsreader and presenter on Radio 5 Live, and co-host of You, Me and the Big C, a podcast about cancer. She has died at the age of 40, just two years after being diagnosed, and leaves behind a husband and a son, not quite three years old. What do you say?
We could do a lot worse than to see how Jesus responded to the death of his friend Lazarus in John chapter 11. Have you ever noticed how Lazarus’ two sisters, Martha and Mary, say exactly the same thing to Jesus?: “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died” (verses 21 and 32). There is faith in their words (Jesus could have prevented Lazarus from dying), but also rebuke (he should have come sooner).
And have you noticed how Jesus responds very differently to the two women? To Martha he says, “I am the resurrection and the life…” (verse 25). To Mary he responds with a question and then “Jesus wept” (verse 35). What a perfect combination from the wisest counsellor of all: truth and tears. Both are needed, at different times and with different people. Through Jesus we too can know and offer both compassion and hope, truth with tears.
Yours warmly, in Christ,
Chris Hobbs (Senior Minister/Vicar)