Twenty-Fourth Sunday after Pentecost

by Crossings

OUR LIVING UNION
Luke 20:27-38
Twenty-Fourth Sunday after Pentecost
(Proper 27–Sunday Between November 6 and 12 Inclusive)
analysis by Mike Hoy


27Some Sadducees, those who say there is no resurrection, came to him 28and asked him a question. “Teacher, Moses wrote for us that if a man’s brother dies, leaving a wife but no children, the man shall marry the widow and raise up children for his brother. 29Now there were seven brothers; the first married, and died childless; 30then the second 31and the third married her, and so in the same way all seven died childless. 32In the resurrection, therefore, whose wife will the woman be? For the seven had married her.” 34Jesus said to them, “Those who belong to this age marry and are given in marriage; 35but those who are considered worthy of a place in that age and in the resurrection from the dead neither marry nor are given in marriage. 36Indeed they cannot die anymore, because they are like angels and are children of God, being children of the resurrection. 37And the fact that the dead are raised Moses himself showed, in the story about the bush, where he speaks of the Lord as the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. 38Now he is God not of the dead but of the living; for to him all of them are alive.”


DIAGNOSIS: Belonging to this Age

Step 1–Initial Diagnosis: Marrying and Giving in Marriage
The saying goes that “the Sadducees are sad, you see.” This polemical encounter with Jesus is the only place in Luke’s gospel in which they, the Sadducees, are mentioned (that, in itself, may be an ominous note). But their sadness (even though they may not see themselves that way) is that they have nothing more than this age on which to base their hopes and dreams. Their sardonic riddle about the resurrection sets them as polar “conservatives” in the spectrum of the more “liberal” Pharisees. But the Saduccees’ question has less to do with doctrinal debate as it has to do with their legal insistence on the status quo–leave life the way it is, with all its marrying and giving in marriage (among all that also constitutes our worldly arrangements). However much there may be talk among (“conservative”?) Christians about otherworldly dimensions, even here the status quo is desired. We are no less sad (even though we, too, may not see ourselves that way).

Step 2–Advanced Diagnosis: Without Hope
The question of the Sadducees displays that they have no hope in ever getting beyond “this age.” In fact, they are proud of it. But such pride begets the fall. Our own hopelessness is evident in how we either seek to escape from our worldliness or how seek to remain pristine in a totally secular value system. Either way, there is no escaping the truth that our hearts are far from seeing any bigger picture than the one we have, in all our smugness.

Step 3–Final Diagnosis: God of the Dead
Jesus, for his part, is not embarrassed by the question (as the Sadducees intended), but ups-the-ante. Only those get to participate in the resurrection who are “accounted worthy.” Now you see why the Sadducees are sad–and so are we, in our resurrection-less spirits. The only God we end up having is the God of the dead, as we must become. There is nothing so cruel about the truth of election than to consider that we may not be among the elect.

PROGNOSIS: Belonging to the Age of Resurrection

Step 4–Initial Prognosis: God of the Living
But what if, as indeed is the hope, that Jesus is the one who now stands before us sad, hopeless beings, giving us his worthiness that accounts us among the living, among the elect?! When all the cards are laid on the table, Jesus holds the Trump to see us through the Last Trumpet. God is our God, who cherishes us and raises us up as worthy through Christ.

Step 5–Advanced Prognosis: Hoping in Faith
The hope that Christ inspires in us sees us beyond the smugness of our being, helping us to let go of our shallow hopes and dreams, and to find, as the true source of our pride, the merits of our Lord. The fuller hope that we already have in faith is that there are places for us in that new age in Christ yet unimagined. We get to stand in good company with our Lord Jesus. Consider this next time at the Eucharist, where we are gathered in some private moment, but with those around us, with saints of all ages, and with angels and archangels and the whole company of heaven. All of this, in this moment, happens in faith in our lives, here and now.

Step 6–Final Prognosis: Children of the Resurrection
And here and now is where we continue to live, marrying and giving in marriage, working, politicking. But no longer do we do so as people only of this age. We do so with the titles of “children of the resurrection,” raising up spouses, co-workers, authorities. It really is quite revolutionary, antiquating the “conservative” status quo. But God uses us as his cooperators of the new age coming.

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  • Crossings

    Crossings is a community of welcoming, inquisitive people who want to explore how what we hear at church is useful and beneficial in our daily lives.

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In the early 1970s two seminary professors listened to the plea of some lay Christians. “Can you help us live out our faith in the world of daily work?” they asked. “Can you help us connect Sunday worship with our lives the other six days of the week?”  That is how Crossings was born.

 

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