Transitions are Never Easy

Transitions are Never Easy


Kevin Williams has served as the Director of Welcome at Westfield Church, United Church of Christ since 2019.  In addition to his passion for Digital Ministry, Kevin enjoys singing Barbershop Harmony with the Silk City Chorus, as well as spending time with his wife Cheri, their children Kaitlyn (and son-in-law Erick), Christina, Shannon, and Xander.  And best of all, their 1-year old granddaughter Lily!

Scripture: John 11: 1 - 45 (NRSV)

The Death of Lazarus

Now a certain man was ill, Lazarus of Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. Mary was the one who anointed the Lord with perfume and wiped his feet with her hair; her brother Lazarus was ill. So the sisters sent a message to Jesus, “Lord, he whom you love is ill.” But when Jesus heard it, he said, “This illness does not lead to death; rather it is for God's glory, so that the Son of God may be glorified through it.” Accordingly, though Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus, after having heard that Lazarus was ill, he stayed two days longer in the place where he was.

Then after this he said to the disciples, “Let us go to Judea again.” The disciples said to him, “Rabbi, the Jews were just now trying to stone you, and are you going there again?” Jesus answered, “Are there not twelve hours of daylight? Those who walk during the day do not stumble, because they see the light of this world. But those who walk at night stumble, because the light is not in them.” After saying this, he told them, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep, but I am going there to awaken him.” The disciples said to him, “Lord, if he has fallen asleep, he will be all right.” Jesus, however, had been speaking about his death, but they thought that he was referring merely to sleep. Then Jesus told them plainly, “Lazarus is dead. For your sake I am glad I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him.” Thomas, who was called the Twin, said to his fellow disciples, “Let us also go, that we may die with him.”

Jesus the Resurrection and the Life

When Jesus arrived, he found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb four days. Now Bethany was near Jerusalem, some two miles away, and many of the Jews had come to Martha and Mary to console them about their brother. When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went and met him, while Mary stayed at home. Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But even now I know that God will give you whatever you ask of him.” Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.” Martha said to him, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.” Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Those who believe in me, even though they die, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?” She said to him, “Yes, Lord, I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, the one coming into the world.”

Jesus Weeps

When she had said this, she went back and called her sister Mary, and told her privately, “The Teacher is here and is calling for you.” And when she heard it, she got up quickly and went to him. Now Jesus had not yet come to the village, but was still at the place where Martha had met him. The Jews who were with her in the house, consoling her, saw Mary get up quickly and go out. They followed her because they thought that she was going to the tomb to weep there. When Mary came where Jesus was and saw him, she knelt at his feet and said to him, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who came with her also weeping, he was greatly disturbed in spirit and deeply moved. He said, “Where have you laid him?” They said to him, “Lord, come and see.” Jesus began to weep. So the Jews said, “See how he loved him!” But some of them said, “Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man have kept this man from dying?”

Jesus Raises Lazarus to Life

Then Jesus, again greatly disturbed, came to the tomb. It was a cave, and a stone was lying against it. Jesus said, “Take away the stone.” Martha, the sister of the dead man, said to him, “Lord, already there is a stench because he has been dead four days.” Jesus said to her, “Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?” So they took away the stone. And Jesus looked upward and said, “Father, I thank you for having heard me. I knew that you always hear me, but I have said this for the sake of the crowd standing here, so that they may believe that you sent me.” When he had said this, he cried with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!” The dead man came out, his hands and feet bound with strips of cloth, and his face wrapped in a cloth. Jesus said to them, “Unbind him, and let him go.”

The Plot to Kill Jesus

Many of the Jews therefore, who had come with Mary and had seen what Jesus did, believed in him.


Reflection: Transitions are Never Easy


Transitions are never easy.  There is an unsettling and worrisome feeling to times when we know what happened before is no more, and what is coming will be new and different.  But it hasn’t quite happened yet.  So often we move forward with trepidation, caution, and even distrust.  We know we have to go there.  We just worry that whatever “it” is will be worse than where we stand right now.

Often when confronted with these situations, we pit logic against our emotions.  We even can become critical of those we feel are overly emotional about what is happening.  We try to come up with words to rationalize and set aside emotions.  “It’s what God wanted” or “Everything happens for a reason” or “They’re in a better place”.  And yet when someone we care deeply about dies, these words within us ring hollow.  And can even anger us.  We feel for the loss of someone.  And we need to grieve to move through that sorrow.

When Lazarus died, emotions were indeed the first response of all who cared for him.  Many of the area Jews initially came to console Mary and Martha, clearly saddened at the loss of their brother.  And Jesus wept as well.   Clearly, God has a place for us to grieve in the face of loss.

So when faced with a transition, it’s ok to mourn.  In fact, it’s even needed to move forward.  But then there is a time to look ahead and take a step in a new direction.  To do that, we need to find a strength somewhere that enables us to enter the transition confidently.  To that end,  in the case of Lazarus, Martha gives us the example we need.  “Martha said to Jesus, ‘Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But even now I know that God will give you whatever you ask of him.’" When faced with transition, worry, and doubt, faith is the energy needed to shift from what was to what will be.

And the demonstration of the power of faith is on display here. “Many of the Jews therefore, who had come with Mary and had seen what Jesus did, believed in him.”  The case was made and proven of Jesus’ place as “the resurrection and the life.” A case we can rely on to this very day.

There are plenty of transitions we face today in need of that uplifting energy.  For some, it’s the loss of a dear loved one.  For others, it may not seem as solemn yet is still an emotional change.  Many of us are still trying to find our way out of a pandemic, unsure of what steps lead to what we want to be our new normal.  Some are battling illness that seemingly has no end, and find themselves in a weakened state worn down from their body not having the strength to move ahead.  Even our churches as full bodies of faith face emotional changes.  Some are weakened from the impacts of the pandemic, uncertain that they have the resources needed to continue to exist.  Others have had long standing Pastors and Teachers depart, and are in an interim state right now searching for the hope that will give them the inertia needed to grow in strength and love.

The answer, in all these cases and more, is the same as it was for those folks gathered at the tomb of Lazarus a couple of millenia ago.  “Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?”  When we place our faith in the glory of God, that glory will shine around us.  And the energy from that light will be the strength we need to move from the emotions of grief to the hope of the future.

May we each find our place where we can offer that faith freely and with confidence, trusting that no matter what it is we are troubled by, God can handle it.                                   


God of hope, surround us with your healing energy this day.  Lift whatever is holding us back from your light, unbind us from the worries of the past, and help us go forward to tell others of the promise you offer to all who simply trust in you. All glory and honor is yours now and forever.   Amen.

New Prayer Requests:

We ask churches and church leaders to join us in the following prayers either by sharing them during worship, printing them in bulletins, or sharing them in some other way. To make a prayer request, please contact Marlene Gasdia-Cochrane at

Prayers of Intercession:

  • For the people of Ukraine whose lives continue to be shattered by war.
  • For those grieving or suffering due to the ~8,700 gun violence deaths that happened in the US since the start of the new year.
  • For clergy well-being.

Prayers of Joy and Thanksgiving:

This Week in History:

March 21, 1965 (58 years ago): In the name of African American voting rights, 3,200 civil rights demonstrators in Alabama, led by Martin Luther King Jr., begin a historic march from Selma to Montgomery, the state’s capital. [History

“Study the past if you would define the future.”

Kevin Williams

Kevin Williams is the Director of Welcome at Westfield Congregational Church, Killingly, CT.

March 20, 2023
Subscribe to our emails
Framingham, MA Office

1 Badger Road
Framingham, MA 01702

Hartford, CT Office

125 Sherman Street
Hartford, CT 06105

Toll Free Phone: 866-367-2822
Fax: 866-367-0860
General Email: