Grace and peace be with you from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior Jesus the Christ. Amen.
Recently, I have found myself playing a lot more chess.
Now that my daughter, Evie is home all the time it is something that we can do together to help pass the time.
I love the game chess.
It is a game that I started playing when I was about Evie’s age.
I have really enjoyed playing the game over the years.
One of the reasons why I enjoy playing chess so much is because of all the variety of moves you can make on the chess board.
I think that is why I quickly lost interest, as a child, in playing checkers.
In the game checkers there are so many fewer moves you can make when compared with chess.
Because in chess different pieces can move in different ways.
This greatly magnifies your choices.
Take this example, in chess after both players move there are 400 possible options in the game.
After the second pair of turns there are nearly 200,000 possible outcomes for the game.
After three moves there are 121 million.
After four moves there are 288 billion possible options for the game.
The number of possible chess games is so large that we really don’t know how many possible outcomes there are.
In other words, if the game goes on for a long number of moves then that game was probably never played before.
Now that is pretty impressive considering the game only consists of 32 wooden pieces lined up on a simple board.
Now if you really want to think more about this example think about word combinations.
The average active vocabulary of an adult English speaker is around 20,000 words.
This is enough words to create an endless string of word combinations.
Again in other words, you will never run out of things to talk about.
And we are constantly learning new words, words sometimes take on different meanings, and our lives are constantly changing.
Sometimes I hear that over time married couples never have anything to talk about anymore.
In reality this is actually an impossible statement to make.
Because the ways we can communicate with each other simply through our words stretches into infinity.
I tell myself this when I am having writers block when it comes to my preaching.
I remember that the number of ways that I can communicate the Gospel is actually infinite.
Especially this is so important to remember now.
The primary way that I used to communicate the Gospel was through preaching before an assembly – a gathered group of people.
Now I have had to learn and use a new way of communicating the Gospel.
This past week I told Kalen that I feel like I am learning a new language in order to still do my work and to still communicate the Gospel.
Knowing though that in life there are always different ways of doing things and different possible options I have set off in this new way of communicating the Gospel.
Trusting that God continues to work and move in and through new ways.
In our Gospel reading for today Jesus is doing something new.
He is communicating God’s will to the people in a new way.
Lazarus is dead.
Lazarus had been in the tomb for four days.
Jesus comes to the tomb.
He says to the people at the tomb, “Take away the stone.”
Martha questions Jesus about rolling away the stone.
“Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?”
So they take away the stone.
And Jesus prays to God and then says, “Lazarus, come out!”
With those words Lazarus comes out.
Think now about what is happening here.
Jesus is teaching the people to see God in a new way.
God is not a god of the dead.
God is a God of resurrection!
Jesus teaches the people here that God is the resurrection and the life.
Here in the heart of Lent we have a resurrection story.
We hear the promise that God is always about the work of new life.
I think that at this Lent maybe more so than any other Lent we have experienced we need to hear those words from the Gospel.
When we believe that Jesus is indeed the resurrection and the life then the ways in which we can move forward in positive and in life-giving ways is endless.
The ways we can move forward in the hope of the resurrection is infinite.
The ways that we can move forward in faith is infinite.
The ways that we can grow in our relationship with God is infinite.
The number of ways that we can grow as a church is infinite.
There are an infinite number of possible outcomes for how we might live out this good news of the Gospel – that in Christ there is new life for us.
This coming new week how might we lean more deeply into this truth?
Consider the possibilities…
This morning I would like to encourage you to think about what new resurrected life might mean for you.
You will have to discern that for yourself and to pray about that.
As you ponder this remember once again verse 26 in today’s Gospel reading from John.
Jesus asks the question,
“Do you believe this?” meaning do you believe that I am the resurrection and the life.
Having faith in our risen Lord opens up an endless set of choices that we can make.
Living into the resurrection means that we are living more intensely in God’s ways.
It means that we are living and acting in ways that brings to light our confidence in God as Lord not only of the past and the present but of the future.
It means we live with hope that God can and will change disease and death.
This is what Jesus did for Lazarus!
Disease and death does not have the last word.
Peace is possible.
New life is possible.
Resurrection is possible.
Our hope in Jesus as the resurrection and the life means that God has ultimate victory.
And for now we live more profoundly in the ways of faith, hope, and love.
In faith, hope, and love we discover again and again an endless number of ways to follow Christ and to care for our neighbors.
May God bless you this coming week and may the peace of God be upon us. Amen.