“Not a Zombie” by Rachael Flanagan, Fiat Ventures

Flickr User Jeff Turner

5th Sunday of Lent

Have you ever heard someone tell a story, and your reaction is that there’s no possible way it’s true?  Well I have one of those stories now.  Do you know what the theme of our next youth ministry gathering was supposed to be, before the tidal wave of the coronavirus pandemic crashed down on us? It was “The End of the World.”

That was the theme I picked out a year ago.  And here we are – mid to late March, and we can’t even do the Youth Ministry night in person because each of our families are sheltered in place at home to avoid the spread of a virus that has swept the earth.

Suddenly, the Apocalyptic Movie Trivia game I put together began to hit a little too close to home. Couldn’t have pulled off the game I invented because it involved breathing masks, which were sold out everywhere long before the night would have taken place. My racing-for-supplies game became a reality…definitely a bizarre situation.

In the Gospel this Sunday, Jesus gets word that his friend Lazarus is dying. But instead of rushing to heal him, Jesus does not arrive until four days after Lazarus has died. Jesus tells the Apostles along the way that something extraordinary will happen that will increase their faith, but when they get there, they are overwhelmed with emotion. Mary and Martha, the sisters of Lazarus and friends of Jesus, are weeping and mourning.  Jesus tells Martha, “Your brother will rise.” Martha responds, “I know he will rise, in the resurrection on the last day.”

Martha believes Jesus is referencing something that will occur much later on – at the end of time. This last point here might conjure up images of the various Zombie Apocalypse movies we’ve seen – but that’s not the case. God created us – body and soul. Right now when a person dies, body and soul are separated. The soul continues to live while the body experiences death. But since our bodies are a part of who we are, God’s plan is to reunite body with soul in the end. This will not look like an episode of the Walking Dead. Neither will injury or sickness or brokenness. Our bodies will be restored and glorified, our souls will be united with our bodies, and our “new normal” will be living with God in the flesh.

Jesus (who has also been moved to tears) looks into the faces of the women who are overwhelmed with sadness, and explains that at this moment in time, they do not have to wait. “I AM the resurrection.” He then commands for the stone to be removed from the tomb and calls out to Lazarus to rise. And he does. Not as a zombie – but as himself. A brother and friend. Body and soul united and healed through the power of Jesus.

So, when you think of the end of the world, don’t think of zombie movies. Think of it as the beginning of something new, and not so much an “ending.” And even in these times, in the midst of uncertainty, and social distancing – let’s be confident that God is working even through our challenges. Yes, we are all stuck at home. But many families are bonding more now than ever. There is always good – we just have to look for it. Expect it. God is always doing good. 

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