Children of the Resurrection
The Rev. Sara Cosca-Warfield
Scripture: Luke 20:27–38
I don’t know if many of you know this, but I like to write fiction for fun. Mostly short fiction, but I’ve been thinking about maybe trying to write something longer, something a little more epic. Maybe science fiction, which is some of my favorite stuff to read.
I’ve been thinking about maybe dropping some aliens into our current world.
(And I just want to let you know that I do know it’s weird to drop aliens into a sermon. I prayed on it, discerned, and as far as I could tell, the Spirit was like, yeah, go with the aliens. And who am I to question the Holy Spirit?)
Anyhow, aliens. Humanoid beings who come in peace. Beings that are alike enough to us that they wouldn’t freak us out or make us feel threatened. Just beings who are excited to have discovered new life forms in the universe and who have come to learn about us.
As they get to know us humans, I imagine they start to become confused. Why do some of you on this planet have plenty to eat while some of you are starving to death? As far as we’ve been able to tell, it seems like there’s enough for everyone, and you have the means to transport your resources. Why not send food to those who are starving? They don’t get it. It seems like such an easy solution.
Why, they might ask after studying us for awhile, do the people who have the most power in this world all look alike? They majority of them seem to be of what you call the male gender and have pale skin. We have observed that half your population is the female gender, but very few of them are in power. It also seems that the majority of you on this planet are not that pale color.
Are these pale males of your species a special breed with exceptional skills and intelligence and strength that have caused you to single them out for power and leadership? they ask innocently enough.
I wonder if Jesus sometimes felt like those visiting aliens, particularly in the Gospel we heard today. He was teaching about the hope of resurrection, and the Sadducees respond with something like, “well yes, but what if a woman’s husband has died and she goes on to marry his brother, but he dies, and then the next brother, but he dies, and then the next brother, but he dies, until she’s married all seven brothers and they’ve all died, and she didn’t have any kids (which I guess is relevant somehow. Anyway—) After she dies, who does she belong to when she and all these brothers are resurrected. I mean, if this resurrection of yours is real.”
I imagine Jesus with this flabbergasted look on his face. “Seriously? I’m telling you about overcoming death, about life everlasting full of joy and peace beyond all of this, and that’s the question you have?”
Jesus was talking about God’s great abundance, and all the Sadducees could think about was how to limit and control its distribution.
I bet if the aliens were to ask us why we don’t distribute the huge abundance of food we have to everyone who needs it, we would sound a lot like the Sadducees, “What if we were to ship the food to those places but those people couldn’t pay for the food and the food business lost money?”
All the aliens see is our great abundance, and all we can think about is how to limit and control its distribution.
I think we do this with a lot of things, but I don’t think we do it on purpose. We’ve been shaped all our lives by certain ways of thinking, certain ways of believing.
Hard work pays off. That’s one of the myths I’ve been taught, and one of the myths we’ve discussed in the Sacred Ground groups. Hard work does sometimes pay off, but I know people in the service industry who work 60 hours a week and still can’t cover their rent and feed their families. And I have friends whose wealthy parents or grandparents pay their rent, buy their groceries, send them on nice vacations, and keep their lives more than comfortable.
What we have isn’t always a reflection of how hard we work.
Another myth we’ve been taught is: I’m only deserving of love if… I’m only deserving of love if I win, if I’m successful. I’m only deserving of love if I’m thin and pretty, or buff and handsome. I’m only deserving of love if I’m not a burden.
I don’t think we realize just how much we limit ourselves, because we have been taught to limit ourselves. We’ve been taught to divide the world into deserving and undeserving through all sorts of arbitrary criteria, and we often shuffle ourselves into the undeserving category. Dividing people up like this comes as naturally to us as breathing. It’s a way of living that’s hard for us to see outside of.
It’s what the Sadducees were working with: a tradition that limited a woman’s worth to how she belonged to a man—or seven men, in this case. And let’s not get on our high horse about these Jews. I think it was Paul who told us Christians that women need to keep quiet in church.
Sometimes we need an outsider, a newcomer, a person with fresh eyes to disrupt our status quo. And yeah, in the science fiction I’ll write, those fresh eyes are beings from other planets. But we actually don’t need them. We’ve got something better. Something real.
We’ve got Jesus.
Week after week, we have Jesus. We have Jesus in the Bible, healing lepers that, let’s face it, probably never worked a day in their life; we have Jesus giving life even to the daughters of his people’s enemies. In the Bible, it didn’t matter who you were—you deserved Jesus. Every Sunday, we have Jesus showing up in the bread and wine, knitting us together as his body, telling us that we belong to God and to each other. We have Jesus, forgiving each and every one of us, no matter what we’ve done.
“Indeed we cannot die anymore, because we are like angels and are children of God, being children of the resurrection.” That’s what Jesus told the Sadducees. Step out of your narrow and limited ways of thinking, and step in to resurrection.
St. Luke’s is a Jesus community, which means this is a resurrection community. Which means this is a community of hope and abundance. Because isn’t that what resurrection is? Hope that we can overcome anything, even death? The abundance of God that is even greater than anything we can possibly imagine?
I think we come to St. Luke’s every week because we want to see beyond all the ways this world tries to limit us, to limit God’s abundance, to limit love. We want to do it differently. We want to live as children of the resurrection.
And I think we’re doing it. We’re being vulnerable with each, sharing hard things and trusting this community to hold them. I see it during our groups and when we pray together as a community. People are stepping up to give of their time, slowing down and carving out hours from their busy days to share their gifts and skills. And today, you are trusting in God’s abundance by pledging your money for the ministry of this place.
In this resurrection community, we are seen for who we are, and we are loved. In this resurrection community, we look with hope for Jesus in every person we encounter, and we look with hope for the kingdom of God around every corner. In this resurrection community, we answer hardships with the boundless abundance God has given us.
Today, as we gather our pledges and make our commitments to each other, to our little corner of the Body of Christ, to St. Luke’s, we celebrate resurrection that is apparent right now, in this life, in this community.