Sermon – November 10, 2013

I’m going to ask you to do something for me this morning that might be a little difficult for you—something that might be out of your comfort zone. But I’m going to ask that you humor me, and just do it, okay? I’m going to ask you to raise your hand if you are a child of God. This is not a trick question. In fact it should be pretty easy—raise your hand if you are a child of God. Ok, you should all be raising your hand! Now, this is a little harder, and you can think about it for a moment—but I want you to leave your hand up if you are a child of the resurrection.

What if I told you that to be a child of God and to be a child of the resurrection were one in the same—that they were the same thing? That you are, by definition of being a child of God, a child or the resurrection, too?

In our gospel lesson for today, Jesus is speaking to the Sadducees about the resurrection. Or, rather, the Sadducees are questioning Jesus about the resurrection, in the hopes that he’ll falter and fumble and say something stupid. Now, we don’t know a lot about the Sadducees—we know they were a group of Jewish people who were probably wealthy and influential, and we think they were priests, working at the temple. But what we do know, because Scripture tells us point-blank, is that the Sadducees did not believe in the resurrection.

The Sadducees did not believe in the resurrection, yet here they are, in the 20th chapter of Luke, asking Jesus about it. They are hoping to corner him—to trip him up. They are hoping to make Jesus say something they could later condemn him for. The Sadducees are pushing Jesus’ buttons, in hopes that they will get a rise out of him. This is an age-old conversational tactic still in use today. I know, because I do it often—just ask my husband!

The Sadducees don’t believe in the resurrection, but they go out of their way to ask Jesus about it. To question him. And they do so by asking a question about a woman who had many husbands—they want to know who she would be married to in the resurrection. I think they were looking for a concrete answer—something like “the first husband, or the 7th husband. But Jesus doesn’t give them a concrete answer. At least not the one they want. Instead, Jesus communicates that life in this age, and life in the resurrection age, are very different. That comparing “now” and “then” is like comparing apples and oranges. Jesus says that we can’t compare the two. This age and the age to come, this age and the resurrection age, are very different.

But what if we got glimpses of the resurrection age in this age? What if we got glimpses of life after death in this life? What if we experienced the resurrection today, or tomorrow, or next week, or next year? What if we blew open the notion of resurrection so that it wasn’t just about what happens after you die, but it was also about what happens every single day in the life of a child of God?

For the Sadducees, resurrection was final—it happened after you died, it was a one-time, return-to-life-from-death kind of thing. Perhaps that’s why they had trouble believing in it. It seemed too mystical, too out-there, too improbable. Perhaps that’s why many of us have trouble believing in it, too. It’s too beyond our understanding; there are too many unknowns, too many what-ifs. It isn’t tangible. We can’t see it.

But what if we can see it?

Jesus says to the Sadducees, after answering their question about marriage and the age to come, that to be a child of God and to be a child of the resurrection are one and the same. He says, “they are like angels, and are children of God, being children of the resurrection.” You are children of God—you raised your hands just moments ago and said so! So if you are children of God, so too are you children of the resurrection.

And to be a child of the resurrection is to experience resurrection—new life—every day. To be a child of the resurrection is to get a glimpse of the resurrection age in this age. That’s what being a child of the resurrection is all about, and that’s what being a child of God is all about. That’s what living in Christ is all about. Resurrection, new life—not just once, and not just in the next age. But here, and now, and over and over.

Yet one can’t experience resurrection without experiencing death. One can’t experience new life without getting rid of the old.

Luckily—or unluckily—we’re humans. We have lots of experiences with death. From losing a job to arguing with your spouse to cheating on your math test to giving into your addiction, we experience death. It is easy to see the death around us—the poverty, the tragedy, the lying, the denying, the unfairness, the inhumanness, the gross, icky, dirty, deathy stuff of this life. It’s easy to see because there is so much of it. But it can be harder to see the new life around us—the resurrection life around us. It can be harder to focus our eyes and tune our ears to all the ways God is working resurrection in our midst. Yet it happens.

Nadia Bolz-Weber, a Lutheran pastor in Denver states, “it happens to all of us. God simply keeps reaching down into the dirt of humanity and resurrecting us from the graves we dig for ourselves through our violence, our lies, our selfishness, our arrogance, and our addictions. And God keeps loving us back to life over and over.” The rhythm of being a child of God is death and resurrection, death and new life. That is the drum beat to which we march, and we live it and experience it each and every day. It is easier to see the death, but God’s promise is that the resurrection is there—we are children of the resurrection, after all.

There was a video all over the internet this week—on facebook and youtube. It’s a video about a middle school football team. It’s a remarkable video, and I can’t do the story justice by simply recounting it to you, so we are going to watch it together now…

VIDEO: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SFg3jiOvhRs

That is resurrection. That is God raising up young people to be others-minded instead of consumed with their own popularity and status. That is God working new life out of death.

You just witnessed a resurrection, a transformation. And you will witness many more, if you have eyes to see and ears to hear. Because you are a child of God. And as a child of God, you are a child of the resurrection. New life is God’s gift to you, over and over again. Resurrection is God’s gift to you, in this age, here and now—and in the age to come. Thanks be to God for such a remarkable gift.