But here we are, singing Easter songs in the middle of November. There’s a reason for my madness, and that reason is this passage from the Gospel of Luke. Because it talks about resurrection, I thought it would be great to sing some Easter songs out of season.
When we meet up with Jesus in this passage, he’s having a discussion with a group of Sadducees. The Sadducees were a group of religious and social conservatives who didn’t believe in the resurrection. Their Bible was essentially limited to the first five books of the Old Testament, and they didn’t think you could find the resurrection in these books. And so Jesus, who had a broader sense of God’s revelation, said to them: "He is God not of the dead, but of the living."
Now this student believed that we’re on the earth to be tested. We either we pass or we don’t, and if we don’t pass then surely there has to be some sort of punishment. I mean, if everyone passes then why be alive? What’s our purpose in being here? Besides, if everyone makes it into heaven and there’s no punishment in the offing, then why bother being good? Let’s just "eat, drink, and be merry!
Now you may be wondering – What does this have to do with the resurrection? Well, I think it has something to do with the way we understand life itself. Does it have a purpose? Does it have value? I think the answer can be found in Jesus’ statement that God is the "God of the living and not the dead," Life is important to God. God values life – all life – which means we should value life. God does not rejoice in death and neither should we.
We’re called to embrace resurrection living. That is, we’re called to live out the values of resurrection in the present.
. . . if we want to really understand the truth of this event, we should look to all the men and women who saw that death was near, who called home on their cell phones. And not to express anger or fear or bitterness but, simply, to say "I love you, take care of the children, have a good life." In a moment of great clarity at the end, they called amidst smoke, and confusion and panic to give us their benediction. And we should accept it. Love each other, take care of the children, have a good life. And give thanks to the Lord with our whole heart for his steadfast love and faithfulness and beseech him that we may have a quiet and peaceful life in all godliness and dignity and that in every place men and women should pray, lifting up holy hands without anger or argument. Amen.1
We just finished with another holiday – Halloween. Halloween reminds us that death and fear go together, at least in the minds of many. With its ghosts and goblins, Halloween tells us that we should be afraid of death. But when we live in fear of death, we’re unable to love. But if God is the God of the living and not the dead, then there’s no need to fear. By embracing the resurrection we’re free to love and to live boldly before God.
Rev. Dr. Robert D. Cornwall
Pastor, First Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)
26th Sunday after Pentecost
November 11, 2007