Dear Cathedral Family,
In this final week of Lent, before Holy Week begins, we have readings for our times. These are texts for times when our world seems to be coming apart, for when our actions seem to be meaningless, for when we examine our own lives and see our failings and the mess we have made of relationships and how incapable we are of fixing ourselves, never mind the world. These are texts that show us that hope is not only possible, that it really exists.
The prophet Isaiah tells us that the Lord can and will make a way for us to come out of the wilderness of our lives into the promise of refreshment and new life. Life does not have to be the same old ways; God promises, “I am about to do a new thing.” The Psalmist echoes this promise, that the time of tears will be followed by songs of joy. In their song, “Everybody Hurts,” R.E.M. captured the core of this truth simply and directly: “Everybody hurts…hold on…take comfort in your friends…you’re not alone.” In the music video of this song, as the plaintive voice of the singer delivers these words, the text of Psalm 132:5 appears on the screen: “Those who sowed with tears will reap with songs of joy.”
All of this is prelude for the powerful and intimate scene recounted in our gospel reading from John, in which Jesus has a meal with his friends. Mary anoints Jesus’ feet with fragrant, precious nard and wipes them with her hair. Her brother Lazarus, recently raised from the dead by Jesus in a foreshadowing of his own resurrection, looks on. Jesus is moving on to Jerusalem, to his triumphal entry and his betrayal and death, which we will witness next week on Palm Sunday. Then, God is truly, once for all, going to do a completely new thing, that will save all of God’s people.
So, however bleak the world may look right now, and whatever your own struggles right now may be, God’s Word has something to say to you. Hold on. Hope. Take comfort in your friends. None of us is alone. A new thing is about to happen.