by Christopher Harbin

New Lives for Old
Christopher B. Harbin

Psalm 130; Ezekiel 37:1-14; John 11:1-45; Romans 8:6-11

Politicians tell us we will need military presence in Iraq for decades. The ongoing insurgency seems to have no hope for an end. The crisis surrounding Israel and the Middle East continues unabated. Somalia, Ethiopia, and the Sudan continue facing seemingly hopeless crises. World Help brought to mind the implications of the HIV/AIDS plague throughout Sub-Saharan Africa, with seemingly hopeless projections for annihilating most of the populations there within my lifetime. About half of the world's population lives on less than $2 per day, 24 times less income than we spent on the Iraq war in 2007. Resolution of healthcare issues in our own nation does not seem likely in the near future. Families seem increasingly plagued with accounts of abuse, neglect, distrust, and failing marriage. We are hounded by fears over immigration, economics, terrorism, violence, education, and distrust of institutions tasked with making life safe and comfortable. How can God respond to such real-world issues that seem hopeless?

Today's readings are once again stories of God's action in the impossible scenarios of life. Mary and Martha could not imagine Lazarus alive, when he had been dead for four days. Ezekiel had no hope left for the nation being deported into exile, much less to see dried up bones recover flesh and life. Time and again, it seems God had to remind people that as Creator, nothing is hopeless or impossible when placed in God's hands. We somehow see real-world issues as beyond God's reach. We may talk about God's omnipotence, but we live as though we were on our own, with no help in sight. Can there be new life in the midst of the old we know so well?

Jesus was constantly surrounded by folks who just did not understand. We would expect the crowds not to recognize the implications of his teachings. We would expect the religious institution not to a ...

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