Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Top Ten Questions God Asks Us- Number Nine

The ninth question in the series of Top Ten Questions God Asks Us is: Why are you Weeping? Remember that this series of sermons is based on the book by Trevor Hudson called Questions God Asks Us.

This question comes in the resurrection narrative of John’s Gospel. Mary Magdalene comes to the tomb early. She peeps into the tomb and sees two angels and they ask her: “Why are you weeping?” She says: “Where is my Lord? Have they taken him away? Tell me where they have taken him that I may take him away.”

Looking for a dead body, not expecting that Jesus was alive, even though Jesus had told them, she weeps. In the garden, someone appears and asks: “Why are you weeping?” Mary says: “They have taken away my Lord…” Jesus says: “Mary.” And, Mary recognizes Jesus and says: “Rabboni”.

The Bible is filled with weeping. In the Book of Ecclesiastes, the writer says: “There is a time to laugh and a time to weep.” Life is this mixture of joy and sadness; laughter and tears. Without the tears we would not know the meaning of laughter.

Israel is exiled from her homeland. The Babylonians come and take away the most educated and skilled people and scatter them throughout the empire. The Jews who were left in Jerusalem were either enslaved or murdered. The Babylonians destroyed their homes, their temple, their city, and their lives.

Years later, Israel is set free to return home. God uses Cyrus the Persian who writes an edict setting Israel free. Ezra and Nehemiah lead the Israelites home. There’s a wonderful scene in which all Israel is gathered. Scripture is read and preached all day. The people weep. At one point it says that the Jews were shouting in praise of God and weeping at the same time. You couldn’t tell one from another.

The shouts of joy were mingled with tears of sadness and grief. Why are you weeping?

I don’t know about you but I am sick and tired of the talk shows where people are paraded out in front of everybody. There’s yelling and screaming and lots of tears. Sometimes I feel that we are awash with tears in this culture. People cry and they think they’ve done something. You can’t watch a TV show without seeing/hearing someone crying.

And yet, I have to acknowledge the importance of our tears. Loss, pain, grief, or just the passing of time lead us all to emotion. Ray, on Everybody Loves Raymond, comes home early one day and catches his wife crying. Immediately he tries to fix it, to get her to stop crying. Ray tries and tries. Finally, his wife says; “It’s OK Ray; I’m fine. Sometimes I just need to cry.”

If we’re honest, we all need to cry sometime. Something like a movie sets it off. We all have reason to cry.

Even Jesus, the savior of the world, Mr. Word made flesh, wept. It’s the shortest verse in scripture: “Jesus wept.” It’s the most precious verse in scripture.

Church at its best is the place, the people, where we can cry and not worry about it. Christians are the people who understand tears, if nothing else, and don’t rush to stop them, but seek to understand them. On Sundays, as we praise God, the tears are flowing. It’s good.

We know, you see, that our tears, all our tears, are not the last word. We worship a God who dries our tears and will one day bring all our tears to joy in that kingdom which has no end.

Why are you weeping? It’s ok to cry in church.

Dave Nichols

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