What an appropriate passage for Memorial Day weekend. On this weekend when we remember those who died in wars..let’s talk about resurrection.
And what an appropriate passage for a world in the midst of a pandemic. As deaths continue to mount around the world…and people are trying to figure out how to move forward…let’s talk about resurrection.
And what an appropriate passage….for all of us. Who know that life is fragile. That peace is fragile. Peace between nations, between people…peace in our own minds. All of us who cannot hide from the reality of death that comes to our doorstep in so many ways — through violence, tragedy, disease, despair…Yes…this morning….let’s talk about resurrection.
Because, dear friends…that is our hope. Our hope is that somewhere buried in the soil this life….are the seeds of eternity. Our hope is that the crushing finality of death as we experience it…the overwhelming grief of losing those we love…is not the final word. The final word is with God….in whom we move and live and have our being. The final word is with God…who loves flesh and bodies….who created flesh and bodies….who called holy and breathed life into flesh and bodies….and who has no end. The final word is with God. Who raised Jesus from the dead. Who reached into a grave and the soup of rotting flesh and brought forth life…and love….Jesus, risen, appearing to friends.
Yes…Let’s talk about resurrection. Resurrection that is rigged into the fabric of creation. Resurrection that is just as inevitable as death. Resurrection that will happen and is already happening.
Already happening…like the good news that is already at work in you…through which you are being saved, even as we speak. The resurrection that means that no night is forever…even now. That no suffering is unknown. No struggle is wasted.
Resurrection that means the stuff and mess of your life is known and holy…it is the substance from which wonder is created…beauty is there. All that “stuff” that we get so discouraged with…is not a mistake, not “wrong”…but it is the goo from which butterflies are born.
Resurrection…That is at the heart of our faith.
Let’s talk about a resurrection.
New life. Rebirth.
We get discouraged. We get frustrated. We wonder, sometimes…what good can come out of this world? Out of the mess of this world? The mess of our lives?
This church in Corinth that Paul is writing to…it’s a mess. It’s bunch of people who are bickering about who matters and what matters and how things should be done…just like every group of people since the beginning of time.
And Paul’s been trying to get them to understand that it’s about love. That’s the part of the letter Matt read last week. Faith, hope, and love abide, Paul says.….and the greatest of these is love, yes.. But faith and hope still matter…in fact, it’s faith and hope that give us the context for our love.
Because our faith and hope…are in Jesus…who was raised from the dead.
Jesus, brutally crucified on a Roman cross and buried in a tomb….appeared to not one or two people…but many people. Even to Paul himself. This was Jesus– truly raised…embodied…with hands for holding and breaking bread. This was not some resurrection in ethereal terms — a spirit that was “free” from all earthly connections and pleasures. No, this resurrection still made possible all the beautiful things of life — friends and food, campfires and fishing. That’s what the resurrected Jesus was up to.
Our faith and hope are in Jesus…who God raised from the dead….and that hope…frees us to love. We can dare to love….because God’s power is not just stronger than death…but it is stronger than all the authorities and powers of this world. Stronger than the Roman Empire that tortured and killed him. Stronger than our own Empire. Because Jesus is raised…because we now know that everything we thought was sure about this life….and what do people say is the one thing we can be sure about from the minute we are born?…that we will die, right?….but now we know — the one thing we thought we were sure about, isn’t absolute after all Which means all the things we think are so powerful in this world….all the things that make us feel hopeless — the leaders of this world who declare war and spew hate and think some people matter more than others. All the powers of darkness in this world… the powers of addiction and greed, paranoia and fear…cycles of abuse and violence. Everything that stands in the way of love…Jesus defeats them all. God is stronger than them all. There is nothing…nothing at all that stands in the way of God’s love. Nothing…nothing that will stop new beginnings and new life from emerging out the goo and mess of our lives.
Paul turns our heads…all of us who get in a mess…who worry and argue…toward Jesus. Toward resurrection. Towards life that pushes through death. Toward love and hope and faith.
On Memorial Day weekend, we think of all those lives lost in wars — all the brutality and evil that warped and shaped nations and armies….and we believe in resurrection. Resurrection for lives lost. Resurrection for souls shattered and scarred and twisted.
In the midst of pandemic, we think of all the lives lost — all the exhaustion and heartache of family kept away and health care workers at the end of their rope….and we believe in resurrection.
In the midst of our own lives, when we can’t see a future worth hoping for…when we are sure our mistakes have gone far beyond anything we can make right again…when we are helplessly watching someone we love in pain…we believe in resurrection.
We believe in resurrection…in beautiful embodied resurrection — with fishing and campfires, friends and food. We believe in goodness. We believe in Jesus.
Yes…this is the heart of our faith…our hope. It is what makes love possible, after all. Death does not win. Thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.