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Saints, zombies and Jedi Knights

October 31, 2015

I admit it, I’m stuck once again. So I’ve decided to go back to the Bible and particularly the Bible passages given for me to work with for tomorrow. I look at John 11.32-44 and I read about Jesus and the raising of Lazarus from the dead.  This is obviously meant to have something to say about saints but I read of someone walking out of a tomb and all I can think of are zombies! It is so irreverent but I can’t help it. I can’t stop myself form seeing a moaning figure stumbling out of his tomb, arms out in front of him, flesh dropping off, hunting for brains.

It is All Saints’ tomorrow and here I am sitting thinking about zombies. It’s not that I have nothing to say about saints but I’m not sure I have anything new or much to add to my post from this time last year “Second hand dress and halo for sale – any offers?”. So perhaps the Spirit wants me to think about zombies? It sounds daft but it could be true. After all, that is what most non-Christians would be doing. Indeed, if I went out with a clip board and surveyed people in any city, told them briefly about a man walking out of a tomb and asked them what they pictured – If I did that then I am pretty confident that the most people would think ‘zombie’, particularly if they are 40 or under.
This just brings it home to me that I can’t take it for granted that anyone outside of church is going to have the faintest idea about Jesus or what God is doing through him – still less care about either. Even Christians today are mostly not that inspired by the stories of saints of old. I think that the stories of men and women who lived the faith in ages past feel so far away from today. It feels as though I should start my story with, “Once upon a time” or perhaps, “A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away…. ”.  The stories of the saints may be good stories but they seem as real to most people as Hansel and Gretel’s bread crumbs or the Star Wars films and Jedi Knights.
I try again with the Bible; I try to get zombies out of my mind. I read that Jesus meets two saints Mary and Martha, they tell him off, Jesus weeps and a dead friend is granted life from the dead. Mary and Martha and Lazarus are all saints, famous saints too. What’s more I am starting to see how their story could be relevant today. I spend a lot of time with the dying and the grieving. Sadly, death is very much a part of life and no one can escape. This saint story is relevant, really relevant.
What do I learn – I learn that as a saint,  I can cry and I can get angry about death; just like Mary and Martha. It is part of my humanity to feel that searing pain of loss that makes my heart feel like dust and ashes. Jesus seems to have felt something of that pain too and wept. So now I know that I can bring Jesus with me to someone in grief. Through the Spirit in me Jesus can sit in me with a grieving widow, and weep. That is a saintly thing to do.
I read more and I find that Jesus can do the impossible. That Jesus can heal even death. So I too can and do pray for healing even when all medical hope is gone. That too seems to me to be the saintly thing to do. But sometimes, as I’m praying for healing, I get a clear sense that healing will not happen here and now, healing will only come after this temporary physical death is through.
That leads me to the last book of the Bible, to Revelation 21.1-6 and I read:
 Now I have something truly amazing, even more amazing than someone healing a dead patient. Now I know that a saint is a follower of Jesus who knows of a healing that goes beyond physical healing. A healing that isn’t time limited – after all Lazarus still died and was buried. A saint seems to be someone who lives (or lived) a life that made this reality clear to those around them here and now. I pray that I too can be a follower of Jesus that, in the midst of the tears, death, suffering, crying and pain, can bring a little comfort that is greater than all these things. A comfort that comes from claiming these promises of heaven, and claiming them for me and for people here and now.
I can see something of what a saint is now. A saint is a earthy human being who like Jesus feels the joy and sorrow of this world, and doesn’t hide themself away from either. Even more, a saint is a earthy human being with one foot on earth and one in heaven, where already, “These things of the past are gone forever.” Knowing this I see that a saint is greater than any Jedi Knight, and greater than any hero from myth – a saint is real too and I can be one!
A saint is someone who knows that the reality of the Father’s love is more mind blowing and ‘out of this world’ than any fantasy, new or old. I want that for me, for you and for everyone, that’s what keeps me going.
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