2/16/20 – “I don’t want anyone’s future to be like my past.”

Posted on : Feb 13th, 2020 | By | Category: This Sunday's Service

Those who know the early history of West Hollywood Church, know that Lazarus, as in the person whom Jesus raises from the dead, is the patron saint of our church.  In 1977, Rev. Ross Greek, our pastor before me, founded a ministry of pastoral care and advocacy for gay and lesbian persons.  He named the ministry in honor of the Biblical story of the raising of Lazarus.   Chris Glaser became the founding director of the Lazarus Project, serving ten years.  You can trace the beginning of every LGBT welcoming congregation in Southern California to the early work of the Lazarus Project and Chris’ ministry.

I’m not sure that 2000 years ago when Jesus called into the tomb of Lazarus and shouted, “Lazarus, Come Out!” that he had any idea that those words would have such profound significance, especially within the LGBT Christian Community, but they did.  Many gay and lesbian scholars believe Lazarus and Jesus might have been lovers/partners.  That’s hard to prove, but Lazarus’ death is the only time in the Bible that we are told “Jesus cried,” so there was some deep connection there.  Also, whenever Jesus was in or around Bethany, he always stayed at the home of Mary, Martha and Lazarus.  In fact, those three (Mary, Martha and Lazarus) are clearly Jesus’ family of choice.  All worth pondering. 

But there is one more part of this story that is really important to us as Christians.  I’ll share that with you on Sunday, but here is a tease.  This story is about death and life.  It’s also a story that Jesus tells to the community as he prepares them for his death and the continuation of his ministry without him.

July 2, 2016, the world lost one of the great 20th century theologians, Elie Wiesel.  Elie Wiesel was Jewish and as a young man was interred in the horrific concentration camps of Auschwitz and Buchenwald.  He was one of the very few to survive.  He was quite literally, “raised back to life.”  Elie Wiesel spent the rest of his life teaching about his experience as a survivor of the Holocaust and making what was an abstract reality for many persons, solidly concrete.  Near the end of his life, he offered these words that gave meaning to his life and work, and shaped his commitment to educate the world so that the atrocities against the Jewish people, nor any other group of people, would never again happen.  He said:

“I don’t want anyone’s future

to be like my past.”

Elie Wiesel

In this the next to the last Sunday of my serving as your Pastor, those words and the ministry of Lazarus so beautifully exemplify my ministry and our future.  More on Sunday.



John 11: 1-11
“The Raising of Lazarus”


Now when Jesus came, he found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb for four days.  Bethany was near Jerusalem, about two miles off, and many of the Women of Faith had come to Martha and Mary to console them concerning their brother.  When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went and met him, while Mary sat in the house.  Martha said to Jesus, “If you had been here, my brother would not have died.  And even now I know that whatever you ask from God, God will give you.”  Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.”  Martha said to him, “I know that my brother will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.”  Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life; those who believe in me, though they die, shall live; and whoever lives and believe in me shall never die.  Do you believe this?”  Martha said to Jesus, “Yes, I believe that you are the Christ, the anointed One of God.

When Martha had said this, she went and called her sister Mary, saying quietly, “The Teacher is here and is calling for you.”  And when Mary heard it, she rose quickly and went to Jesus. 

When Jesus saw her weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled; and said, “Where have you laid him?”  They said to Jesus, “Come and see.”  Jesus wept.  Those watching said to each other, “See how much he loved Lazarus!”

Then Jesus, deeply moved again, came to the tomb in which Lazarus was buried, had the stone taken away and cried into the tomb with a loud voice, “Lazarus, Come Out!”  And Lazarus came out, his hands and feet bound with bandages, and his face wrapped with a cloth.  Jesus said to them, “Unbind him, and let him go!”


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