top of page

All Saints - John 11:32-44

Jesus is furious.

The translators tone it down, because their market niche is church people, who don't like their leaders to show anger, unless it's supporting theirs.

We certainly can't have Jesus committing one of the seven deadly sins.

But John's Greek is clear: Jesus is not just troubled or moved, he's incensed.

I don't know why.

There are theories, and I have suspicions, but I don't presume to understand what

exactly is happening in his heart and mind; if I did, I could too easily dismiss and

ignore it.

Instead, John's writing invites me to sit a moment with angry, crying, freaking out Jesus

as the crowd debates how he feels about his dead friend, whose grieving sisters

make reasonable sounding, passive aggressive remarks.

Jesus' rage has to go somewhere.

He walks it to his friend's grave.

Anger, in addition to being one of the seven deadly no-nos, has also been identified as

one of the five stages of grief.

If you've been paying attention this year, you will quickly recognize at least four of them: denial, anger, bargaining, sadness, and acceptance.

These are not linear marching steps; grief is rarely a straight line, usually more of a house

with several rooms we wander in and out of.

Our church, and our country, are living in grief.

Some of us are in denial about that, or in denial about the messy reality of Covid,

or January 6, or the death of the way of life we used to know, with full churches and a feeling of safety in a civil, orderly society.

Some of us are wistful and sad.

Others are bargaining, like the members who call me about removing face masks

in worship, or lengthening the service, or resuming Sunday School, or whatever

other old normal we can renegotiate.

And many of us are just angry.

We're furious that this mess, however we define it, whoever we blame for it,

hasn't been cleaned up yet.

And it won't be for a while.

I know you don't want to hear that any more than I want to say it.

All the accumulated anger has to go somewhere—the ballot box, social media, family,

friends, children, whoever happens to be the unfortunate soul standing in front of you—and there's plenty of other people's anger flying at you.

And America has not trained us to be patient.

But the reality is, this situation that has stunk way too long will continue to stink

for years.

The Institute for Collective Trauma and Growth has studied the cycle of community grief

in the wake of a disaster.

A brief heroic phase, which is unsustainable, gives way to a much longer disillusionment phase, which does not end until, in the institute's wording, you are able to

acknowledge that no amount of heroics can change the fact that this loss occurred, while also goodness still exists in life.

The path forward to a wiser living phase, which includes acceptance that there is no going back to the way things were before, is a long, bumpy, winding road.

The whole process takes two to five years; we won't reach that minimum for months,