Nothing is lost on the breath of God      Dave Rogalsky

Theme: We can give our sorrows, our hurts, our memories to God, who remembers them, loves them, and loves us.

Scriptures: Psalm 23; Psalm 116; Isaiah 43:1-7; John 11:1-45

Nothing Is Lost on the Breath of God

Nothing is lost on the breath of God,
nothing is lost forever,
God's breath is love,
and that love will remain,
holding the world forever.
No feather too light,
no hair too fine,
no flower too brief in its glory,
no drop in the ocean,
no dust in the air,
but is counted and told in God's story.

Nothing is lost to the eyes of God,
nothing is lost forever,
God sees with love,
and that love will remain,
holding the world forever.
No journey too far,
no distance too great,
no valley of darkness too blinding;
no creature too humble,
no child too small for God to be seeking and finding.

Nothing is lost to the heart of God,
nothing is lost for ever;
God's heart is love,
and that love will remain,
holding the world forever.
No impulse of love,
no office of care,
no moment of life in its fullness;
no beginning too late,
no ending too soon,
but is gathered and known in its goodness.

Colin Gibson
Words © 1996 Hope Publishing Company CCLI License # 3078291


Our reading today comes from the larger story of Jesus, the sisters Martha and Mary and their brother, Lazarus. They lived near to Jerusalem in the town of Bethany. Jesus was close friends with these three, often spending time with them. He probably stayed with them when he went up to Jerusalem for the holy days of Passover, Rosh Hashanah, The Jewish New Year, Yom Kippur—Day of Atonement, Sukkot—Feast of Booths (or Tabernacles), and Hanukkah. We find that often “he went out to Bethany” or “he came (to Jerusalem) from Bethany” (see Matthew 21:17 and Mark 11:12). He even sent disciples to Bethany to get the colt for the Palm Sunday ride into Jerusalem, knowing where the colt was, and knowing that the owner would gladly lend it to “the Lord.” (See Luke 19:29-35).

According to the Gospel writer John, Jesus had been staying across the Jordan because of threats against his life from the Jewish leadership. While he was there Mary and Martha sent news that Lazarus was sick, and might die. They wanted Jesus to come and heal Lazarus. But Jesus delayed his return, later telling the disciples that he knew Lazarus would die, and that he was going to raise him from the dead.

Can I say that I find this problematic – Jesus, God among us, let Lazarus and his sisters suffer, so that he could do a larger miracle. True, God seldom actively intervenes in our suffering. God’s ministry is more one of presence – being with us in our suffering. But John writes that God allowed suffering, knowing that God was going to do a powerful sign afterward. Perhaps that isn’t so different from what we believe – God allows suffering now, but will heal all things in the future.

When we meet Jesus in today’s reading he has just arrived in Bethany. Perhaps someone went ahead and alerted the family that Jesus was coming. Jesus had told his disciples that Lazarus was already dead so they shouldn’t have been surprised when they found a house of mourning. Knowing the family, perhaps Jesus had sent the forerunner to tell Martha that he was coming.

In the ensuing discussion Martha and Jesus range over basic Jewish beliefs in the resurrection from a theological perspective. Jesus honoured this woman’s ability to think and discuss by engaging her. Martha’s approach to the issues are those of someone who thinks about their feelings, and Jesus meets her there.

But when Martha goes and tells Mary that Jesus has arrived a different scene unfolds. Using exactly the same words as Martha had, instead of entering into discussion Mary confronts him with her anger laden grief, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died."(John 11:32 (NRSV)) Mary felt about her thinking. John tells us that Jesus was deeply moved, began to weep, and asked, in what I expect was a broken voice, “Where have you laid him?” No discussion here, just painful grief.

In each case Jesus responded to the woman as a person of worth, with a real character, and real needs. Each was different from the other, but neither was less than the other, nor were either less than Jesus as a human. He received their confrontations, moved into their space, and cared for them in love and deep respect.

This passage also asks us to consider the meaning of belief. Martha said to Jesus that she believed that he was God’s anointed servant, the Messiah, the Christ. But when confronted by the reality of the tomb with its odors, she seems to not believe. Is the healing dependant on her belief? Does she have to trust blindly? This miracle was done as a sign. That’s John’s common word for such activities by Jesus (e.g. see John 4:54). The resurrection of Lazarus was to be a sign to Martha, Mary and others that what Jesus said was true. The resurrection was to build belief, trust, that Jesus truly was the resurrection and the life. Jesus’ eventual death, and his resurrection, happened so that we too would believe . . . and hope. Interestingly, Mary is not asked to believe, and yet she too received the sign of the resurrection. It would seem that God is bigger than needing our belief. God will act on our behalf, even when we don’t believe. Besides Thomas, doubting Thomas to many, there are passages in the Bible where God promises to act, and then people will trust and believe (see John 20:24-28; Jeremiah 12:14-16; Ezekiel 36:22-32).


On this last Sunday of the Church Year we come to God with our memories of loss, grief and pain. We bring them to God who comes to us in our emotions and thoughts, joins us, honours us, and begins to heal us.