Our God Is the God of the Living: All Saints Sunday Sermon 11/06/16

Text: Luke 20:27-38


It was November 2013 and it was a dimly lit hospital room. It was getting late in the evening and at the moment the floor we were on was quiet.
Nothing but the sounds of incessant beeps, periodic clicks, and the rhythmic whisps and puffs of air escaping the machines gathered around the bed.

The chaos of the day had mostly settled down and now it was just this strange calm.
Earlier that morning I’d returned from church with the kids only to find my wife of 12 years at the time unconscious and gasping for air. Thanks to the quick response of many- too many to name—we had gotten her to the ER and mostly stabilized her, and now gotten her to a room.
She was in a medically-induced coma but she was there.

Yet the concern in the faces of the doctors and nurses unsettled me.
And I noticed how some of the attendants no longer really looked me in eye.
I was worried
I was afraid.

For hours, teams of doctors came in and out
checking this, checking that
Whispering among themselves.
Finally, one of the nurses approached me and gently told me, “it’s time you should probably call in family”

And at that moment every dream I had, every plan I had made. Every hope and excitement I had for the future…was just…snuffed out.
Over the next few hours which became several days and then eventually a week, miracles began to rain down on my family.
A risky but successful transfer to the main hospital offered us the glimmer of hope we had prayed for
It was a roller coaster for sure
There were exciting peaks and harrowing valleys –
there were more doctors and specialists — more than I could ever count-
there was anger and frustration
There was nervous laughter and gut-wrenching cries
There were agonizing days and nights of tear-soaked pillows

But slowly and surely
Her heart got a little stronger
Her lungs started to drain and were able to retain more oxygen
each organ got a little stronger and with that
her entire body got a little stronger.
And my Kristan slowly began to recover

There would be great costs to this recovery as we all now know- more than we could have ever imagined or honestly ever feared-
but she survived.

A miracle.
A resurrection.

Resurrection happens every day.
Sometimes we just have to name it for what it is.
Addictions are conquered;
relationships are healed;
purposes are restored.
Our God is not the God of the dead, but of the living.
In the gospel passage, the Sadducces, who were mostly aristocrats and held to the belief that only the first 5 books of the Bible were authoritative, did not believe in the resurrection because this wasn’t in those Scriptures.
They were black and white.
They were strict rule followers.
And they didn’t like this rogue rabbi going around talking crazy to everyone
so they were coming to Jesus with a scenario so exaggerated that they were convinced they had tricked him and proven their point- that resurrection wasn’t rational.
The Mosaic Law taught of one way for our lineage to continue- through our heirs- anything other than that was simple fantasy.

But Jesus answers by not only dismantling their argument but answering the question BEHIND the question-
Because this is usually what happens isn’t it?
When a friend or colleague or neighbor is trying to trip us up in a particular argument-
usually there is a question behind the question.

the Saduccess are not convinced that there is everlasting life.
Because in their minds it defies all rational thinking.
I mean, how can this be?

but we all have these questions, don’t’ we?
Black and white thinking has permeated our world today.
We’ve lost the enchantment of our ancestors
Of angels and miracles.
Just like the Sadducees, we get trapped in our limited view of the world.

Nothing in our current, modern experience makes room for such outrageous thinking

Or does it?

All of creation speaks the promise of our resurrection.
Evidence of it is everywhere, if we only expand our vision to see it.

Saplings sprout and blossom out of the charred remains of forest fires.
The sun breaks out from behind the clouds after the remnants of storms.
Loving people collect and gather to help in the aftermath of devastating storms and tragedies.
Our God is the God of the living.
NOT the dead.

But not every story has a happy ending.
Sometimes, lives are lost
Sometimes relationships end
Our health betrays us
Our pain becomes too great.

We cry out to God as the psalmist did “how long O Lord?
But the hope that lives in us
That light
that fire- although sometimes dim
Is the hope of resurrection.

On that fateful day on Golgotha, God raised Jesus from the dead and in that moment everything was changed

Death has been conquered.
Everlasting life is our promise
the eternal flame lives in our hearts just like the promise
The waters of our baptism assure us that resurrection has indeed taken place
And will happen again.

Our hope is in Christ.
And like the candles we light here today to remember and celebrate the saints in our lives
We acknowledge that our God is the God of the living.
and while the flame of these candles might go out
And the lives we love might go with it
the hope burns on
the eternal flame lives in our hearts just like the promise
And although it might be joined by sadness
And although our flame might flicker with grief and mourning
It burns on
With the hope of resurrection
In death, resurrection isn’t just that our Spirit will simply carry on in some magical way
Resurrection promises that our physical bodies – our very selves
will be restored
in a heavenly way.
yes this is outrageous
yes this is hard to believe
But it is no less real.
Our faith is so much bigger than any of the concrete patterns and rules we live by.
Because our God is the God of the living.

As the dust continues to settle on my family’s saga, Kristan and I often have some heavy conversations.

About now
About the future.

And one night I was asking her about how she sees heaven and the promise of everlasting life.
And she confidently told me that she imagines a day when she is fully and physically restored.
that those hands that once brushed the hair of her children
and knocked her goofy husband upside the head from time to time
will be fully restored

That those legs that carried her to medal-winning times in marathons
Will carry her once again.
They will be restored.

that is her hope
That is my hope
and that is OUR hope
the hope of the resurrection
Our God is the God of the living NOT the dead

You might be dreading tomorrow. The thought of dragging yourself out of bed to start another week might be overwhelming. You could be facing loss, pain, or a body that seems to be breaking down. But you have a reason for hope. And that hope is Jesus Christ. . That hope is placed in your heart by the Holy Spirit. The new life is available through the resurrection and is available each and every day. We don’t know how it works or how it’s possible. But it’s the promise of our faith.

So if your hope is to see that loved one again
Hold on to that promise
our God is the God of the living

If your hope is that your pain will be cured
Hold on to that promise
our God is the God of the living.

If your hope is to have your body restored-
Hold on to that promise

whatever that resurrection is in your life
hold fast to that hope

Our God is the God of the living

And yes it is a promise

Thanks be to God.



Thanks for inspiring me on this Sunday afternoon. I am so proud of you! Much love!


Thanks for inspiring me on this Sunday. I am so proud of you! Much love!


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