The raising of our neighbor, Lazarus

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​The Gospel text for Sunday, March 8, “The Raising of Lazarus,” is found in John 11:1–45. This has been one of my favorite texts for years, ever since I edited an LWT article. The author* wrote something along the lines of “Jesus saved Lazarus from premature death. Unlike Jesus, Lazarus will die again. As followers of Jesus, that’s our challenge, too…to save our neighbors from premature death.

Until that day, this text spoke to me about what Jesus could do (raise people from the dead) and what Jesus was about to do (head to Jerusalem and the cross). Now, when I hear this passage of Scripture I also hear a reminder of what I can do. I am response-able for helping to save my neighbor from premature death.

Premature death: One child dies every five seconds from hunger-related causes. The average life expectancy of a female in Zimbabwe is 37 years; the average life expectancy of a female in the United States is 80 years.**

Life-saving difference: Literacy programs teach parents how to read, and scholarship programs help their children attend graduate from primary school and beyond; wells and reservoirs bring life-giving water to whole communities; animal and agriculture projects help families put food on the table and money in the bank. ELCA domestic hunger grants help congregations, organizations, and ministries help neighbors close to home meet today’s needs and build a better future.

Response-able: We can give generously to the ELCA World Hunger Appeal. We can send advocacy e-mails. We can donate our time and volunteer. Throughout the year we can link our congregations to ELCA World Hunger and Disaster Response.

With God’s grace and spirit: Our eyes open to the needs around us. Our arms open to embrace neighbors we’ll never meet. Our hearts open to care about the people behind the statistics. Our imaginations open to see the possibilities of God. Our hands open in service and generosity.

*I believe the author to be the Rev. Phyllis Kersten, but my sources are unavailable for confirmation.
**The appendices at the back of Bread for the World Institute’s annual reports are a great source for statistical information.