John 11

Along the border of Mexico and the US, there is a competition called “gritar.” Gritar in Spanish means to yell, and that what the contest is about—yelling for as long and as loud as you can. The origins of the competition are foggy, but it is said that the grito

is the shout that started the Mexican Revolution of 1810. Most of the competitions are in bars or at country fair-type events accompanied by a decent amount of cervesa. Sometimes the competitions get downright rowdy.

But for some, the shout has real meaning. Take Marisa Lale, a 10-year champ in Brownsville, TX. She took up gritar competition a year after her mom died suddenly from a heart attack. Her husband had told her, “You should do a grito. Yell as if your mom has died. Use that power, use that energy.” And when she did, Marisa not only won the contest, but also brought her husband to tears. She packed all her emotion into that cry.


I think that’s how Jesus must have sounded at the tomb of Lazarus. He knew all along that he would raise Lazarus from the dead. But he seemed unprepared for what that would mean. When he saw Mary and Martha crying, their sorrow broke his heart. Jesus wept. And then he got angry—our translation says, “greatly disturbed,” but others say angry—angry at the pain his friends felt, angry at the powerlessness, angry at death itself. He packed all that emotion into a great grito: “Lazarus, come out!”


But the thing about the grito is that it’s not just a cry of pain and struggle. It was born in the suffering of the Mexican Revolution. In that uprising, the people threw off the powers of colonialism and became their own people. They threw of the powers of death and birthed a new nation. And so in the battle cry of the grito is also a shout of joy. In fact, in competition, the longer the cry goes on, the more the crowd starts cheering. The crowd joins in the shout and becomes a chorus. The cry of pain becomes a shout of victory, and nothing can stop it.


We do not live near the Mexican border, but if you tune your ear just right, you can hear the shout of the grito. The Grito sounds in the families of students like Frantzesca, who, through the generosity of this congregation, is studying law in her home country Haiti.

The average salary in Haiti is $800 per year, but she students in this program of the HTF make on average $10,000, lifting their families from poverty and investing in the future of Haiti.


The Grito rings out when children gather at our preschool to learn and play, and educational professionals and therapists focus on mental health of our youth to heal the isolation and stress of the pandemic era. The grito rings out when we assemble Pantry Care Packages so that parents in need have the dignity of providing for their families’ toiletries and cleaning needs.


The Grito resounds when we stand at the tomb of our lives. We have dead places in our hearts, hardened by pain, cold to touch. We have places of conflict and failure where the stench is overwhelming. And at the mouth of this tomb, we shout!

We shout with the Haitians, and the young people and those who serve them, the families meeting their day to day challenges, in one voice. It is a shout of struggle and heartbreak, but it is also a cry of joy because we too know that something better is coming, something bigger and more real than we’ve ever experienced. Lazarus is a foretaste of what is to come, a sign that not just one dead man comes back to life but that our dry bones will become warm bodies again the hopes of thousands for autonomy and dignity will come to life and that dead dreams get wings.


Brothers and sisters, we stand in this place at the tomb between the here and the not yet. It is not yet Easter. Our hurts are still here. There are still wounded children and lands torn apart. But standing here, we know the form inside will not stay dead forever but will burst from the tomb with new life stronger than before—irrepressible, made new.


And until then, we will shout with all the saints and martyrs. We will cry our song of pain and celebration. We will yell our grito: Come out! Come out and greet the light of a new day.

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