Preparing for Sunday, February 18: The Story at Home

About the Story at Home

With Bishop John’s blessing, the parishes of Ascension and Epiphany use a narrative lectionary. As the year unfolds, our weekly readings trace the arc of salvation history, one story at a time. And each week, resources for home support reading, reflecting, and praying with the Bible.

Our worship is participatory: In addition to a sermon, we take a few minutes to work through our response to the word of God, communally and in our own hearts in other ways.

No matter what is happening, sitting quietly in prayer, private journaling, or colouring will always be an option!

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Preparing for Sunday, February 18
Jesus Raises Lazarus
John 11:1-44

Now a certain man was ill, Lazarus of Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. Mary was the one who anointed the Lord with perfume and wiped his feet with her hair; her brother Lazarus was ill. So the sisters sent a message to Jesus, ‘Lord, he whom you love is ill.’ But when Jesus heard it, he said, ‘This illness does not lead to death; rather it is for God’s glory, so that the Son of God may be glorified through it.’ Accordingly, though Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus, after having heard that Lazarus was ill, he stayed two days longer in the place where he was.

Then after this he said to the disciples, ‘Let us go to Judea again.’ The disciples said to him, ‘Rabbi, the Jews were just now trying to stone you, and are you going there again?’ Jesus answered, ‘Are there not twelve hours of daylight? Those who walk during the day do not stumble, because they see the light of this world. But those who walk at night stumble, because the light is not in them.’ After saying this, he told them, ‘Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep, but I am going there to awaken him.’ The disciples said to him, ‘Lord, if he has fallen asleep, he will be all right.’ Jesus, however, had been speaking about his death, but they thought that he was referring merely to sleep. Then Jesus told them plainly, ‘Lazarus is dead. For your sake I am glad I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him.’ Thomas, who was called the Twin,said to his fellow-disciples, ‘Let us also go, that we may die with him.’

When Jesus arrived, he found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb for four days. Now Bethany was near Jerusalem, some two miles away,and many of the Jews had come to Martha and Mary to console them about their brother. When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went and met him, while Mary stayed at home. Martha said to Jesus, ‘Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But even now I know that God will give you whatever you ask of him.’ Jesus said to her, ‘Your brother will rise again.’ Martha said to him, ‘I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.’ 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. Do you believe this?’ She said to him, ‘Yes, Lord, I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, the one coming into the world.’

When she had said this, she went back and called her sister Mary, and told her privately, ‘The Teacher is here and is calling for you.’ And when she heard it, she got up quickly and went to him. Now Jesus had not yet come to the village, but was still at the place where Martha had met him.The Jews who were with her in the house, consoling her, saw Mary get up quickly and go out. They followed her because they thought that she was going to the tomb to weep there. When Mary came where Jesus was and saw him, she knelt at his feet and said to him, ‘Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.’ When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who came with her also weeping, he was greatly disturbed in spirit and deeply moved. He said, ‘Where have you laid him?’ They said to him, ‘Lord, come and see.’ Jesus began to weep. So the Jews said, ‘See how he loved him!’ But some of them said, ‘Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man have kept this man from dying?’

Then Jesus, again greatly disturbed, came to the tomb. It was a cave, and a stone was lying against it. Jesus said, ‘Take away the stone.’ Martha, the sister of the dead man, said to him, ‘Lord, already there is a stench because he has been dead for four days.’ Jesus said to her, ‘Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?’ So they took away the stone. And Jesus looked upwards and said, ‘Father, I thank you for having heard me. I knew that you always hear me, but I have said this for the sake of the crowd standing here, so that they may believe that you sent me.’ When he had said this, he cried with a loud voice, ‘Lazarus, come out!’ The dead man came out, his hands and feet bound with strips of cloth, and his face wrapped in a cloth. Jesus said to them, ‘Unbind him, and let him go.’


Something to do in response to God’s word.

Begin a Lenten Discipline!

There are so many kinds of Lenten Disciplines we can take part in. At Epiphany, I am encouraging us to follow the Lenten Discipline created by the Society of Saint John the Evangelist called Meeting Jesus in the Gospel of John. This is a reflection series that you can encounter through a prayer journal, and also includes a YouTube series. You can find below the videos from Sunday, February 11th and Monday, February 12th below.

Of course, Lenten fasting takes us back thousands of years, and unites Christianity with Judaism and Islam. In all three Abrahamic faiths, fasting is a way to draw us closer to God.

If you choose to fast for Lent, whether it is chocolate, meat, or perhaps a form of social media, remember that historically fasting allowed for generosity. For most of human history, people did not have disposable income: so when we fasted, we were able to save up money and produce to be more generous to others. So if you’re fasting, be mindful of the money you saved, and consider giving the balance to a worthy cause. And if you’re giving up social media or another use of your time, consider giving the time you’re saving toward a worthy task.

All of that said, also remember that many cultures look forward to periods of fasting, and we should too. Fasting brings people together, and makes our days more interesting and challenging. You should find joy in your Lenten discipline, whatever you choose. Let’s leave that link between ‘Lent’ and ‘Depressing’ in the past.




Something to Wonder—Conversation or Contemplation starters

Though Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus, after having heard that Lazarus was ill, he stayed two days longer in the place where he was.

So if Mary and Martha sent that message to me, and I literally had the power to save Lazarus from death, I would have left right away. And yet, how frequently does this describe our own experience of God?

How often do we wait for God? What is God up to? Why is God taking so long. If God doesn’t hurry up, it will be too late.

One of the many, core themes of the Christian and Jewish traditions is waiting for God.

Sometimes, one day it is evident to us that waiting for God those days, weeks or years ultimately led to something glorious. Other times, we never know. Yet at the heart of our tradition is we are always called to wait for God, and dwell in that mystery of unknowing.

That said, what do you think Jesus did do those two days??

If you can think of a source of tension between Jesus, Mary and Martha, these two days Jesus waited before going to see Lazarus must have been it. Mary and Martha sent a desperate message to Jesus, he read it in time, and he didn’t come. Instead he did … something … for those two days. It’s one thing to wait for a God we cannot see, its another to watch God while we wait.

What do you think Jesus did those two days? If you are a writer of fiction, what a fun writing prompt: What was Jesus up to those two days before he left to see his friend Lazarus?

The Lazarenes

Jesus came back from the dead, resurrected by God.

So did Lazarus.

Yet there are no “Lazarenes.” There are millions of followers of Jesus, but no followers of Lazarus, as far as I know.

It seems the miracle of Jesus’ resurrection may have more to do with who Jesus was, than the resurrection itself.


Check out this “old school” but lovely commentary by early 20th century Church of Scotland minister William Barclay:

Or this more modern reflection on Lazarus from Alyce McKenzie at


A prayer in response to the word of God.

Deny the Resurrection

“Without equivocation or hesitation I fully and completely admit that I deny the resurrection of Christ. This is something that anyone who knows me could tell you, and I am not afraid to say it publicly, no matter what some people may think…

I deny the resurrection of Christ every time I do not serve at the feet of the oppressed, each day that I turn my back on the poor; I deny the resurrection of Christ when I close my ears to the cries of the downtrodden and lend my support to an unjust and corrupt system.

However there are moments when I affirm that resurrection, few and far between as they are. I affirm it when I stand up for those who are forced to live on their knees, when I speak for those who have had their tongues torn out, when I cry for those who have no more tears left to shed.”

—Peter Rollins


The Story at Home: Reflections on the Narrative Lectionary
is a ministry of Church of the Ascension and Church of the Epiphany
in the Anglican Diocese of Ottawa.

This week’s reflection was prepared by The Rev’d Geoffrey Chapman.

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