November 6th: "Angels, Children of God"

Text: Haggai 1:15b-2:9; Psalm  98;                     32nd Sunday in Ordinary Time                   Sandy Nuernberg

2 Thessalonians 2:1-5, 13-17; Luke 20: 27-38      25th Sunday after Pentecost                      Pastor

Title: “Angels, Children of God”                            All Saints Day Celebration/Communion Sunday

1st Presbyterian Church                                           Sunday,, November 6th, 2016                Pardeeville, WI

 

Please pray with me…  Oh Lord,, as we hear and discern your Word, bring your Spirit into us, close for us to grasp your compassion, your grace, and your guidance. Help us to be comfortable with your presence in our lives.               AMEN.   

 

            You’ve heard the phrase, ‘Mama said there’d be days like this,’ or another one my Mom used to remind me of, ‘Things are going to get worse before they get better.’ An additional comment about these kinds of times might be, ‘It doesn’t matter what happens, because we aren’t in control anyway, God is in control.’ We’ve heard that too, but in pondering our texts today, I’m still reminded of the celebration of All Saints Day as a pretty serious time to think about our own faith in understanding living and dying.

 

            I’ve been reading a good book, “Accidental Saints: Finding God in All the Wrong People” (Covergent Books, 2015) by the Rev. Nadia Bolz-Weber, an unconventional Lutheran (ELCA) pastor who spoke to us at the Milwaukee Presbytery meeting recently. Her book came out in paperback THAT day! I told the Session about my hearing her (Tuesday, September 27th, Milwaukee Art Museum downtown) message of God’s grace that saves sinners; she suggests our ‘letting go’ of not only who we are, but what the church has been. She told us to live as ‘who we are, ’ and with death there is resurrection and ‘new life comes out of death.’ She aptly describes in her book celebrating All Saints Sunday:

 

“The November feast day when the church recognizes how thin the veil

is between life and death and remember that the church includes all who

have gone before us and now are glorified and all who will follow who

are yet to be born. ”                       Ch. 1, Saint Cookies, p. 4

 

            Bolz-Weber is humorous, and is known for her using ‘colorful language’ (expletives!) in her talks and in her books, yet in all her own personal traumas of being a recovering alcoholic/drug addict she emphasizes “what is lost is found, and what was dead is alive.” ( https://www.presbyterianmission.org/storyunconventional-lutheran-pastor-draws-300-milwaukee-presbytery-meeting/ ).

 

            The Sadducees were clearly a group out to get Jesus; they wanted to catch him in the details and putting him in an unaware situation, if they could. They chose a tough topic: Levirate marriage (Deut. 25:5-19, Numbers 27, Matthew 22:23-33, Mark 12:18-27), but really they were asking about the end of the world, the end of times, the resurrection, because they said there was ‘no resurrection (v. 27).’

 

            The Sadducees aggressive hostility towards Jesus is their not believing; could they have been fearful? Jesus pounces on them fast (v.34) with the fact that the resurrection has nothing to do with marriage. It has everything to do with God turning the world up-side down after death; it has everything to do with that the new age after death is nothing like it is on earth.

 

            Like my Grampa used to say to his workers at the Lake Wissota power-plant, ‘Take that (you Sadducees) and put it in your pipe and smoke it!’ Really, Jesus says that marriage after death is like that of any of the ‘angels’ as children of God, and children of the resurrection. They are still alive in God’s kingdom; a new age where death does not have the last word. God has the last word!

 

             The Sadducees think the present day happenings, marriage in particular, will indeed be the resurrection as eternal life, and Jesus says it’s not the “same ole’ same ole,” it is a new age when pain, fear, anger, and hatred, tears, are no more. Jesus cautions these fearful nay-sayers that it’s a much bigger picture; yes, everything will be transformed anew. Easter was Jesus coming alive again; his resurrection and return here on earth was that the entire world miraculously would be transformed anew.

 

            Luke’s Gospel seems to tell us there is a kind of ‘let’s look at the bigger picture here’ before we get too embroiled in all the details. Jesus is asking us, “Isn’t there life before death?” Then, he is telling us there’s life in this age before there is life in a new age in our death and resurrection. And that new age after resurrection is definitely not like the present world in which we live.

 

            I have to admit to you here and now, I don’t often think about our Lord Jesus Christ coming again, because I am too busy trying to get as much done in this earthly world as I can before I die! Yes, I do believe Jesus is here and has been here in all His glory! Those in Thessalonica, and we, are clearly told the same thing; there is so much that will happen in our lives before Christ comes again, but we must carry-on in what we do, and we must be who we are, not determining when it will happen. Jesus wants us to be here on earth to experience that resurrection; God getting God’s own way here on earth—as we know/pray, ‘Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.’(2 Cor. 5:18).

 

The most important part of the resurrection for us as Christians is not that we ask ourselves if we are going to heaven, even though our faith tells us that in our believing the resurrection, but Jesus says these Sadducees don’t get the bigger picture; God’s world (heavenly) is not their world (earthly);it’s so far beyond. Today, some may think that a number of evils must strike us (usually three—is that biblical?) before any good can come to be. Yet we find as we come to the festive Lord’s Table, we need not be obsessed with trivial details, worry about the end of the world as we know it as inclusive of faithfulness, hope, and love of another, along with fear, stresses, frustrations, anger.

 

Let us come together as the body of Christ, knowing that God is faithful in good times and in bad, regardless of today, tomorrow, or in the future. God is the God of the living and we need not be fearful. Let us share the bread of life and the cup of salvation, living our faith in which we’ve been called and installed. Let’s celebrate our heavenly angels as children of God, children of the resurrection. We can trust in God ultimately controlling our lives, without the details.

 

                                    Thanks be to God.                                AMEN.

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