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Posted by on Mar 22, 2017 | 0 comments

Lazarus to Life: A Reading

Below is a retelling of the story of the resurrection of Lazarus from John 11:1-45.  It has been designed for 2 readers and congregational responses.  It could easily be adapted for 1, 3, or 4 readers.  Please note that the response and prayer of confession were inspired by a poem by Robin E. Van Cleef, titled, “Call Forth Life” which was published in the March/April 2017 edition of “Alive Now” magazine (Upper Room Ministries).


READER 1:         Voices from the Wilderness. As we hear this morning’s Gospel story from John, let us listen for the voices from the wilderness, listen for the voices of doubt and fear, the voices of comfort and belief.  We invite you to respond with “Call Forth Life” when you hear us say that phrase.  Like this:  CALL FORTH LIFE!

CONGREG:       CALL FORTH LIFE!

READER 1:         Let us now listen together for God’s Word.  [PAUSE] Lazarus was from the village of Bethany where Mary and her sister Martha lived and, oh yeah, he was sick!  So his sisters reached out to Jesus because Lazarus, the one he loved was not doing well.  Mary and Martha wanted Jesus to CALL FORTH LIFE!

CONGREG:       CALL FORTH LIFE!

READER 2:         Now make no mistake, Jesus loved Lazarus…and Mary and Martha but when he got the news, he dismissed it saying, “Lazarus’ sickness won’t kill him but it will glorify God and God’s son.”   And so, Jesus stayed where he was for TWO…WHOLE…DAYS…before heading out.

READER 1:         His skittish followers were uncomfortable with going back to Bethany and said to Jesus, “teacher, your enemies want to kill you but you want to go back anyway?”  “Yep,” said Jesus, “but I am the light and you won’t stumble as long as you are with me.”  His followers wanted Jesus to CALL FORTH LIFE!

CONGREG:       CALL FORTH LIFE!

READER 2:         “Besides,” Jesus said, “our friend Lazarus is sleeping and he needs us me to wake him up.  Let’s go to him.”  Led by Thomas who is called Didymus, they followed Jesus into uncertainty and death.  Into the Wilderness…wanting Jesus to CALL FORTH LIFE!

CONGREG:       CALL FORTH LIFE!

READER 1:         By the time Jesus got to Bethany, Lazarus had already been dead for 4 days.  In grief, many friends and family had come to comfort Martha and Mary.  When the distraught Martha saw Jesus, she went to him and chewed him out..  “Where were you when we needed you?” she said, “but I know that whatever you ask of God, God will give you. Now what?”

READER 2:         Jesus said “Lazarus will rise again.  And not at the end of time.  You see, I am the resurrection and the life and whoever believes in me will live and will never die. Do you believe this?”

And to this unbelievable news, Martha replied, “Yes, Lord, I believe.”  She trusted Jesus to CALL FORTH LIFE!

 CONGREG:      CALL FORTH LIFE!

READER 1:         After that, Martha went and told Mary that Jesus had arrived and was looking for her.  So Mary, and an entourage of mourners went out to the tomb of Lazarus.

READER 2:         When Mary saw Jesus, she fell at his feet, and chewed him out as her sister had done.  “Where were you when we needed you?” It was an intense moment. Mary was crying, the mourners were crying and Jesus was deeply troubled by it all. And Jesus went to see Lazarus’ body. CALL FORTH LIFE!

CONGREG:       CALL FORTH LIFE!

READER 1:         Along the way Jesus also began to cry.  The text says “Jesus wept.”  The mourners saw him and had mixed feelings.  Some appreciated the love Jesus had for Lazarus.  While others wondered where he was when Lazarus really needed him.

READER 2:         A troubled Jesus arrived at the tomb with the mourners.  Together, risking the smell they might find inside, they removed the stone from the entrance of the tomb.  CALL FORTH LIFE!

CONGREG:       CALL FORTH LIFE!

READER 1:         With the entrance now open, Jesus gave thanks to God for always hearing him.  And with that, Jesus gave God something to hear.  “Lazarus, come out!,” he shouted.  CALL FORTH LIFE!

CONGREG:       CALL FORTH LIFE!

READER 2:         And “he who had died” came out.  Still covered in burial clothes, Lazarus came out.  “Unbind him and let him go,” Jesus said.  “Unbind him and let him go.” And many who saw this whole event, they, too, were unbound and let go.   And many that day began to believe in him.  Jesus, CALL FORTH LIFE!

CONGREG:       CALL FORTH LIFE!

READER 1:         We ask God in Christ to hear us as in our pleas for life to be called forth.  And we ask also to be unbound and let go through the confession of our hearts.  Please join me in the Prayer of Confession:

CONGREG:       God who calls forth life, my hopes and dreams often lie in dust.  Often, my possibilities are bound in grave clothes.   Often, my path is strewn with bitterness and regrets.  Often, I confess, these create deaths within me and around me.

READER 1:           [Assurance of Pardon] Come, Lord, come with hope, swirl the sand beneath our feet, reassure us of the forgiveness you give so freely, and call forth life into us once more.  AMEN.


© Tracie Wright & Rev. Kevin Goldenbogen, 2017

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