Take off your grave cloths

Jesus said, “I am the Resurrection and the Life”

Holy Trinity Church, Huddersfield, Sunday 23rd February 2020

The earliest known photograph of Holy Trinity Church, Huddersfield, A sepia picture showing the chuch surrounded by fields.


Off to church again on a blustery but dry day. A welcome relief from the weather over the last two weeks. We arrived in time to settle before the service but not early enough for a between service coffee.

The Vicar and his family were away, the children are at school and it is the end of the winter half-term holiday. John the Churchwarden preached and his wife Bev took the service. The theme, the last in the series on the “I Am” sayings of Jesus was on I am the resurrection and the life.

This was not the best week for me. Cold and damp is a combination that is not good for arthritis. On top of this bright light streaming through the south windows was hurting my eyes, I have light sensitivity and had not brought my sunglasses. On top of this, a toddler too young for Sunday school was making noise. I don’t normally mind children’s noise, in fact seeing a young child worshipping God in their own way without inhibition often helps rather than hinders my own worship, but all the overstimulation from pain, sunlight and noise were pushing the limits of my autism. I knew I was getting close to meltdown and was ready to sneak out, if that were possible. Then the sun went behind a cloud, things improved. I’m glad I stayed.

After the service during coffee there was no escape. People in the welcome area chatting make a lot of noise and there is no escape back in the church as people overflow back there. There is nowhere to escape noise after the service, we need a quiet space. My behaviour after the service may have been a little edgy. I apologise for anyone who was upset, but that’s autism for you, it really was out of my control. I did not wait for my wife, who was on coffee duty, but left early. After resting quiet at home 30 minutes I was OK.

The service was good. I enjoyer the opening and closing musical worship and the sermon was good. and challenging. I’m glad I stayed. Selected points from the sermon went something like this:

The words Jesus said were the same God spoke to Moses. I am.

The highlight of the I am sayings is ‘I am the resurrection and the life.’ Jesus is the key to eternal life who will go on to overcome death. We do not need to fear death because the I Am who has conquered death lives in us.

In the passage, which is about when Jesus received news that his friend Lazarus was ill, Jesus Chooses to delay coming. They expected him to go and heal Lazarus straight away. Jesus sees things through a God-ordained timing. The miracle of raising dead Lazarus is greater than healing a sick Lazarus would have been.

I usually want God to work immediately and in the way I want him to. We need to leave the answer and timing to God. God does hear prayer but does it at the right time, not in our time.

Lazarus was already dead, really dead beyond doubt when Jesus arrived. Jesus leaves his timing until there is no doubt that Lazarus was well and truly dead. Martha, Lazarus’s sister, knew that Jesus could heal and was sure that Jesus was the Messiah. Martha lso believed in a final resurrection. If was at this point Jesus says ‘I am the resurrection.’ He doesn’t just offer resurrection, he is the resurrection and the life; resurrection and life available to us now.

Jesus is saying just trust me. Then he calls Lazarus by name to come out. It wasn’t sufficient to raises from death he has to be released from the grave cloths, the trappings of death as well. Jesus commands that Lazarus be removed from the grave cloths.

Soon after that another stone will be rolled away from a tomb and other grave cloths will be left behind. Death is conquered for all time.

Lazarus had to not only to come out of the grave but to come out of the trappings of death, the grave cloths as well. Do you believe this?

We have to respond to the call of Jesus. If you have not heard that call hear it now. Jesus is calling you to come to him.

For those of us who have responded to Jesus already there is a question: Have we put on our grave clothes again such as habits and despondency.

God wants us to shed our grave clothes. Are you willing to let Jesus remove them?

2 thoughts on “Take off your grave cloths

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