April 1, 2020

A complete list of lectionary readings for Year A is located at https://lectionary.library.vanderbilt.edu/daily.php?year=A
Matthew 22:23-33 

The same day some Sadducees came to him, saying there is no resurrection; and they asked him a question, saying,  24  “Teacher, Moses said, ‘If a man dies childless, his brother shall marry the widow, and raise up children for his brother.’  25  Now there were seven brothers among us; the first married, and died childless, leaving the widow to his brother.  26  The second did the same, so also the third, down to the seventh.  27  Last of all, the woman herself died.  28  In the resurrection, then, whose wife of the seven will she be? For all of them had married her.”

29  Jesus answered them, “You are wrong, because you know neither the scriptures nor the power of God.  30  For in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven.  31  And as for the resurrection of the dead, have you not read what was said to you by God,  32  ‘I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’? He is God not of the dead, but of the living.”  33  And when the crowd heard it, they were astounded at his teaching.
Grace, peace and mercy be multiplied to you from God our Father, and the Lord and Savior, Jesus the Christ. Amen.

Many years ago, a woman went to the local newspaper to place an obituary in the paper for her recently deceased husband. The obituary editor informed her that the fee for obituaries was 50 cents per word. She paused, reflected and said, “Well, then, let it read, ‘Fred Brown died.’”

Amused at the woman’s thrift, the editor told her that there was a seven-word minimum for all obituaries. Only a little flustered, she thought things over, and in a few seconds said, “In that case, let it read, ‘Fred Brown died. 1963 Oldsmobile for sale.’”

If you have had to pay for an obituary recently, you know this is an old story!

In my 30 years of ministry, there have been periods of a few weeks when one funeral would come after another. In my first call, we had three parishioners die on the same day: two of them I had visited that day. I was known for a while as the “pastor of death” – no one wanted me to visit for several weeks after that! The very same year, we had seven funerals in 22 days. I wondered if we were on speed dial at the funeral home, and I was sure that I was considered part of the staff there. Now I don’t mean to make light of funerals and death, but the reality is that death is a part of life. Death will occur to 100% of this congregation, some day… I guarantee it. But the good news is this. Because of Jesus Christ we have hope. “ For God so loved the world he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him may not perish but may have eternal life! ” Life is ours. Forgiveness is ours. Because of Jesus, death is not the final word. Life is victorious. In Jesus we have HOPE.

Every week we confess our faith:

I believe in the Holy Spirit,
The holy catholic church
The communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins,
The resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting. Amen.

Resurrection of the body. Life everlasting. 

Jesus is teaching in the Temple, and the Pharisees and Sadducees are trying to find a way to trip up Jesus and his teaching. The question is lifted about resurrection, of which the Sadducees did not believe. Their scripture text was limited to the first five books of the Bible – the Pentateuch. And from their interpretation, there is no mention of resurrection.

But Jesus offers a different view of these texts. Jesus quotes from Exodus – a book the Sadducees know well: " I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob ."' If God is the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, these men must be living, because God is God of the living, not the dead.

The name Yahweh means “I am!” Now. 

At the tomb of Lazarus, Jesus says to Martha, “ I AM the resurrection. I AM the life .”

God’s promise of new life is ours today!

In sure and certain hope, face the reality of our finitude. Come face-to-face with death. 

Live today as a gift from God, who is the God of the living. God is the God of life. Rejoice. Know that in Jesus Christ we have one who has gone before us, in death, and to new life. For Jesus Christ died on the cross to win the battle over sin and death and rose to new life so that new life will be ours. Because he lives, we shall live also.

Let us pray:
God of all grace, we give you thanks that by his death our Savior Jesus Christ destroyed the power of death, and by his resurrection he opened the kingdom of heaven to all believers. Make us certain that because he lives we shall live also, and that neither death nor life, nor things present nor things to come, will be able to separate us from your love in Christ Jesus our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.
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