Sunday, November 10, 2013

Its About Time, the Second Coming, and Resurrection

Today's Gospel reading was Luke 20:27-38 and was primarily about the concept of a resurrection which might have tied in nicley with the other readings such as Job 19:23-27 if our new rector had so chosen,
“Oh, that my words were written!
"Oh, that they were inscribed in a book!
That they were engraved on a rock
With an iron pen and lead, forever!
For I know that my Redeemer lives,
And He shall stand at last on the earth;
And after my skin is destroyed, this I know,
That in my flesh I shall see God,
Whom I shall see for myself,
And my eyes shall behold, and not another.
How my heart yearns within me!"
Job 19:23-27

In Luke's Gospel, the Sadducees test Jesus with a hypothetical question,
Then some of the Sadducees, who deny that there is a resurrection, came to Him and asked Him, saying: “Teacher, Moses wrote to us that if a man’s brother dies, having a wife, and he dies without children, his brother should take his wife and raise up offspring for his brother. Now there were seven brothers. And the first took a wife, and died without children. And the second took her as wife, and he died childless. Then the third took her, and in like manner the seven also; and they left no children, and died. Last of all the woman died also. Therefore, in the resurrection, whose wife does she become? For all seven had her as wife.”
Jesus turns the tables on the the Sadducees not only by first providing an answer to the marriage question in which He provides no scriptural defense, but by then by using the very same method the Sadducees used in justifying their hypothetical. Jesus uses a literal interpretation of Moses words to answer the ultimate question of whether or not there is a resurrection.
Jesus answered and said to them, “The sons of this age marry and are given in marriage. But those who are counted worthy to attain that age, and the resurrection from the dead, neither marry nor are given in marriage; nor can they die anymore, for they are equal to the angels and are sons of God, being sons of the resurrection. But even Moses showed in the burning bush passage that the dead are raised, when he called the Lord ‘the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.’ For He is not the God of the dead but of the living, for all live to Him.” Luke 20:27-38
Given the content and substance of these lessons, I was totally baffled by our new rector's meander off into a discussion on Time. She also took Moses literally and concluded that all are alive to God, but the ensuing jumps into and out of the time tunnel created a sermon that confused more than it elucidated. In the interest of time let me summarize,

1) Now was then, and then is now, and we are he and you are all together... goo goo goo joob.
2) And the take home message was that by virtue of #1, "Now is the resurrection."

I have learned to be wary of preachers who try to get their congregation to focus on the here and now at the expense of the hereafter. It is understandable because it is far easier to focus on the here and now than to delve into the scriptural references to the things to come. Our rector attempted to merge the past, present and future into a "spinning pinwheel whose color becomes pure white" the faster you blow it. I suspect she was trying to communicate some transcendental experience of the nature of God, but when she said, "Now is the resurrection," without a good scriptural context, it came across as, you are unborn/alive/dead/risen all at the same time. (St. Paul, a little help here!)

So why did I get out of bed this morning? Or did I? Or will I?

People get into trouble all the time once they try to talk about it (time), especially revisionists because of the problems they have with Jesus' words from today's Gospel reading,
"But those who are counted worthy to attain that age, and the resurrection from the dead..."
Such conditional statements about a future day of reckoning are avoided in your typical revisionist sermon, and I suspect they were left out of many a sermon today.

There is no denying that we believe in a life of the world to come now is there? After today's sermon I heard the words of the Nicene Creed,
"and I look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come."
and I heard then a liturgy packed full of Soteriology, Eschatology, and whatever other "-ology" you can think of that might use a language dependant on the use of present, past, and perfect tense.

Perhaps we would have been better served to have wandered over to Colossians 3 and considered,
"If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory."
No way we were going there because Col. 3 has all those uncomfortable references to the here and now,
"Therefore put to death your members which are on the earth: fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. Because of these things the wrath of God is coming upon the sons of disobedience, in which you yourselves once walked when you lived in them."
Not to mention all that nonsense about marriage,
"Wives, submit to your own husbands, as is fitting in the Lord. Husbands, love your wives and do not be bitter toward them." (18-19)
It is natural for us to wonder about things to come just as we naturally hold on to memories of the past and are often hopelessly consumed by the present. Maybe an enlightened one can merge all things that have been with all things present and future, but most of us are happy to just hear Jesus speak to us in parables about the kingdom and to hear his promise of joining Him in paradise to the condemned man hanging beside him on the cross.

I am running out of time here, but note that our other reading for today, 2 Thessalonians 2:13-3:5, was part of a letter in which Paul is warning the Church against those who taught that the second comming had already happened and he is advising them to,
"...stand fast and hold the traditions which you were taught, whether by word or our epistle." (2 Thess 2:15)
Tradition, what a thing of the past. Hey I have an idea, how about living tradition in the here and now as well as into the future?

Oh, sorry, I must be time travelling again.



  1. Pewster,
    I preached on the Collect. O God, whose blessed Son was manifested that he might destroy the works of the devil and make us children of God and heirs of eternal life: Grant us, we beseech thee, that, having this hope, we may purify ourselves even as he is pure; that, when he shall appear again with power and great glory, we may be made like unto him in his eternal and glorious kingdom; where with thee, O Father, and thee, O Holy Ghost, he liveth and reigneth ever, one God, world without end. Amen" The collects remain a faithful witness to revised lectionary readings. The 1979 prayerbook catechism said "God is love". Well, what about Holy and Sovereign? I believe TEC will eventually change the collects also.

  2. Replies
    1. I received a scathing email from a parishioner yesterday because I had preached on hell. We are still reaping the fallout of TEC and the 1979 catechism where even members who left with us hold a "theology" more akin to the beliefs of TEC. The new ACNA catechism hopefully will set things straight. We need to all be re-instructed.

    2. Tweak the Devil's tail and that is what you get.
      It becomes possible to ignore Christ's warnings about Hell when one places their own belief system above Jesus'. The commonly held belief in TEc pewsitting circles is that if God is Love, He would not allow Hell, a day of judgment, etc. Proper instruction is vital for people to avoid this trap that Satan has set for us.