Thursday, November 14, 2013

Whose Line Is It Anyway

We have to start this morning by admitting one thing.
None of us knows what happens in the resurrection.
None of us here has ever died.
This morning’s exchange between Jesus and the Sadducees seems a little weird.
It seems like an argument of the absurd nature of religion.
Like when people argue about how many angels can dance on the head of a pin.
Who knows?
But the bigger and more important question is who cares?
Who cares who will be whose wife in the resurrection?
For many of you that question seems absurd because in our day many people have more than one partner.
Many people get divorced and remarried.
So who cares?
I think that Jesus answer is somewhat along this line of thinking.
He basically says, “It won’t matter.”
The resurrection is not like this world.
It doesn’t have the same rules and obligations.

I bet that if I sat down with all of you individually and asked you about your belief in the resurrection I would get a lot of different answers.
There would be some who think it is just about our spirit floating away to heaven.
There would be some who would think that it was about waiting for the final trumpets to sound and our bodies being raised from the day.
There would be some who would have some kind of hybrid version taken from different religious beliefs.
We would be like the religious people of Jesus day.
We would have different views, with different beliefs.
Just like for Jesus it was Sadducees who only used the first five books of the Torah to draw on their understanding about God.
The Sadducees were the conservative religious people of their day, and because of this did not believe in the resurrection.
On the other hand we have the Pharisees who also used the prophets and the oral tradition.
There was no one group who spoke of some “Jewish” belief but it was varied.
The same is true with us Christians today.

There has been in recent weeks an argument floating around the internet about the resurrection.
Some prominent Christian thinkers are saying that Jesus did not actually rise from the dead.
Others are arguing how important that is to our belief system.
Just to be clear I fall into the camp of an actual bodily resurrection.
I thought about preaching about how important that is to our beliefs as Christians.
But then I thought that maybe that would be just another way of making it seem like a theoretical exercise.
The resurrection means more than the doctrinal or theological argument.

So what I want to look at is not the doctrine of the resurrection and what camp we fall into, but something deeper.
I want us to consider this morning why we believe it?
Why does it matter to us and our lives?

This week on NPR I heard the story behind the song, “I Drive Your Truck.”
The song won this year’s song of the year at the Country Music Awards.
The song was inspired by a report on the Boston NPR station about a man named Paul Monti, whose son, Jared Monti, died in Afganistan while he was trying to save a fellow soldier’s life.
Jared Monti won the Medal of Freedom for his bravery.
Paul still drives Jared’s black Dodge Ram.
He does it because it reminds him of his son, and when he is in the truck he feels close to him.
Paul has been working on a project called Flags for Vets that puts American flags on soldier’s graves on Veterans Day, which is another way to honor his son and what he believed and died for.

I was thinking of how we all do this in some ways.
When we lose someone we love how we keep them alive.
We tell stories about them.
We keep things from them that remind us of them.
I have some of my Dad’s clothing that my mom gave me after he died.
At times I will take out those pieces of clothing to remind me of him.

This past week when the Red Sox won the World Series the first thing I wanted to do was pick up the phone and call my Dad.
That was the first thing I did after they won in 2004.
I thought about how much he would have loved this year’s baseball season.
We do things like this to ease the pain, to remember, to not let go.

This is why resurrection means so much to us here now.
It is our way of saying that we believe that this is not the end.
That this is not all there is.
Our way of saying that there is more than merely what we see.

Jesus this morning tells us, “Now he is God not of the dead, but of the living; for to him all of them are alive.”
What we see as death, what we experience as the end, God sees very differently.
God does not see death but God sees life.

There are many Sundays when I stand up here and talk about the importance of Jesus’ death and resurrection.
I was wondering if perhaps sometimes I pass over it too quickly.
We should take more time to linger on that phrase.
These are not just mere words, but they are life giving for us.
So that death and resurrection are not some absurd thing for religious folks to argue about, but something that we carry around in our lives.

How does the world and our lives look different in light of our belief in the resurrection?
It means that all of the things that look to be worn out, dead, burnt out, over, are all just ways that God is bringing new life.
That a truck that seems to be useless takes on a whole new meaning.
Those things that we think should be discarded really have value.
Our pain and loss can be transformed into things that give hope and life to others.
With God there are no endings only new beginnings.
Our God is not a God who brings death, but a God who is alive and brings life to all of us.

That is powerful.
Even though none of knows for sure what happens in the resurrection we know by faith its power in our lives.
We know how important it is for us to believe that God is at work bringing life from death.
Our faith is what gives us strength.
And faith is about what we don’t see and don’t know for certain.
It gives us power in our lives to not be afraid of what comes next.

Jared Monti’s last words were, "I've made peace with God. Tell my family that I love them."
A solider about to die confesses his faith in God’s eternal promise.
Resurrection means everything to us.
It helps us do heroic things even though we know it might mean death.
But God does not see death but life.

This morning I am asking all of us to consider the words of Jesus, to take them not as mere doctrine or theological guess work but truth.
Truth that sets us free from the limits that the world tries to impose on us.
The limits that says that this is all there is, and it is just dead.
Instead to continue to have faith that God is of the living.

To be honest I am not sure how we live without that faith.
I am not sure how we navigate the world.
How do we live in a world of violence, hatred, vengeance, and meanness?
Jesus suggests this morning that we don’t have to.
We can instead see the world through the eyes of God.
We can see our lives through the death and resurrection of Jesus.

May all of us have faith in, and live in the promise of that resurrection so that our lives are strengthened.

No comments:

Post a Comment