John 11:1-25-26a NRSV
Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Those who believe in me, even though they die, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die.”
These words come mid-way through the story of the raising of Lazarus from the dead and are perhaps the most important words in the story. You see, what is important about this story is not the fact that Lazarus was returned to life. What is important is what Jesus is telling us about life. He is not speaking of life eternal as something which happens after our death. Yes, at our death we will live in the presence of God. And eternal life is also a very present reality! We have eternal life right now. It is the fullness of life lived in the presence of God, for as Jesus says, “I am the resurrection and the life.”
I experienced this sense of life lived in the presence of God in a most unlikely place. Many years ago I was taken to Mother Theresa’s hospital in Kolkata. It was the place where those who were dying on the streets of Kolkata would receive care. As I entered the hospital I felt the most overwhelming sense of peace and joy, unlike anything I have ever felt, before or after that day. I am certain that God was palpably present in this place where death was a present reality. Life was being affirmed by the care those who were dying were receiving. May this meditation remind each of us that life lived in the presence of God, even when that life is fraught with fear, is eternal.
Eternal, holy one, help us to remember that you promise us life eternal in your presence even when we least expect it. Amen.
Rev. Dr. Susan H. Fellows