Hinton makes a difference by walking alongside our neighbors


Hinton makes a difference by walking alongside our neighbors

Sept. 27, 2019

Imagine for a moment all the different images or emoji depictions for the phrase “mind blown.” That’s what rolling around in my head right now.

I recently attended a retreat for a two-year cohort I’m in that centers on bridging divides in a community or, really, any sort of conglomerate of people. We had a speaker who shared his take on John 11, when Jesus raises Lazarus from the dead. Since then, I haven’t been able to stop thinking about what he said, and taking it even further in my own mind about the scripture.

My thoughts on this scripture passage have always been focused on the miracle of the resurrection of Lazarus, and of how Jesus was so moved by his death. (That and the verse declaring that he smells – stinketh… Can’t help it, I’m human and that always catches me. #everysingletime)

If you want to refresh your memory, read the entirety of John 11:1-44. Here’s a snippet of the passage:

Jesus was deeply disturbed again when he came to the tomb. It was a cave, and a stone covered the entrance. Jesus said, “Remove the stone.” Martha, the sister of the dead man, said, “Lord, the smell will be awful! He’s been dead four days.” Jesus replied, “Didn’t I tell you that if you believe, you will see God’s glory?” So they removed the stone. Jesus looked up and said, “Father, thank you for hearing me. I know you always hear me. I say this for the benefit of the crowd standing here so that they will believe that you sent me.” Having said this, Jesus shouted with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!” The dead man came out, his feet bound and his hands tied, and his face covered with a cloth. Jesus said to them, “Untie him and let him go.” (vv 38-44)

What stands out most to you in these verses?

The speaker shed new light on this passage for me and I’ve been discussing it with others and mulling over it ever since. Consider this:

What if we think about this passage in terms of a negative experience or trauma or even a life situation, such as living in poverty? What if the cave you find yourself in is one of a past hurt or situation? If you read the previous blog, it’s the thing that causes a crack in you.

Do you notice how Jesus doesn’t go IN the cave to get Lazarus; he simply calls for him to come out. Friends, I believe that Jesus is with us in our deepest hurt and struggles, but I also believe he calls us to life beyond those things. He calls us out of the dark times.

In the scripture, Lazarus – the dead man! – comes out of the cave. I think that when we’ve experienced something that causes us pain, that wounds us, that makes us grieve or suffer, we have to be an active participant in our healing and wholeness. We too have to come out of the cave. Keep in mind, Lazarus was still bound and his face was covered. He wasn’t strutting out of the cave easily… it took effort and persistence. It was hard. Oftentimes when we come out of our “cave” (whatever that is), it takes effort and persistence. It is hard.

Did you notice what happens next? Scripture tells us that Lazarus comes out with his feet bound and his hands tied, and his face covered with a cloth. Jesus said to them (the crowd gathered there), “Untie him and let him go.” This wasn’t just Jesus and Lazarus, there were other people present and engaged in the dead man coming to life. I think that even though we need to be active in our healing, we can’t do it alone. It takes a community, or at least a few trusted people, to help us. It might be trusted friends, others who have been there, going to therapy, our church family, to name a few. The point is we can’t go it alone.

Going a step beyond, if we look at it in the context of living in poverty, consider all the conversations around people helping themselves and the fear of enabling (and whose role is it to help anyway)? What if we frame that discussion through this scripture? Someone who is experiencing poverty, specifically generational poverty, needs to have active participation in taking steps to improve their situation. This helps with the dignity piece and empowers individuals. It’s an individual who has agency. Yet, it’s very difficult to do it alone. That’s where the community comes into play. An important piece of this is the bridging social capital, which is others who walk alongside someone. Just like those present had to untie Lazarus, we need to walk alongside someone – and that will look different for each person or situation.

This is one of the ways we believe we are making a difference in our community here at Hinton Center. Through our missions outreach, we don’t just want to make repairs here and there, but we want to walk alongside our neighbors, in a way that is dignified. We want to build relationships with others and see transformation in our community, but it takes effort – both for our neighbors and for us, and we need people to come alongside us in this work.

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