Notes for message based on Luke 20:27-38

Readings for this week are: Hag 1:15 – 2:9; Psalm 145:1-5, 17-21; 2 Thess 2:1-5, 13-17; Luke 20:27-38

You can find these readings here: NIV // NRSV  // The Message

 

clip_image002

The relevant answers begin with the right questions.

clip_image004

In 32 AD (give or take a few months), Judea was in the midst of turmoil that would lead to profound changes in the world. I am talking about the emergence of a new understanding of God that would become the foundation of Christianity – emergence of our relationship with God. Jesus, so divine and so human, brought this understanding to the people two thousand years ago and it still resonates in our lives today.

 

The people of Judea were facing a problem. How should they respond to Jesus? He obviously touched a chord with people’s suffering; he understood the needs, hopes and fears of people from all walks of life. At the same time, his teachings, although intuitive, were challenging the established order and centuries of traditions.

 

Some people embraced Jesus’ teachings because these teachings resonated with their lives; some others were reluctant to accept Jesus because he challenged their way of life and everything that they considered to be right, true and beautiful. As you can imagine there were groups of people who were apprehensive about Jesus’ teachings. Most of our lives are driven by the tension between what we learned in the past and what we are learning on our life’s journeys…

 

One of the groups resisting the teachings of Jesus were Sadducees. The Sadducees feared Jesus’ teachings because they did not believe in resurrection; the concept of final judgment, the very idea of being held accountable for the way we live our lives scared them and challenged their worldview.

clip_image006

When we are apprehensive about something, we have to make a choice whether:

 

1. We want understand what we are afraid of, possibly learn something new, and make adjustments in our lives,

2. We want to fight whatever we are scared of, or

3. We want to run away.

 

At least some Sadducees decided to put up a fight. They thought long and hard and I have to give them credit for asking a well thought out question that was supposed to corner Jesus and justify why they should hold on to their power without any thought of accountability or responsibility for taking sides with the Romans and oppressing their fellow countrymen.

clip_image008

I can almost hear them saying something like:

“Jesus, you are a smart man, you preach well and many people choose to follow you. Maybe you can help us to understand something… I am the oldest of seven brothers…Let’s say I die and my next younger brother takes my wife into his household. Then when this brother dies, our next youngest brother takes my widow into his household… That is our custom, that is our way of life, this is what makes ours a civilized society… We lived like this long before you showed up, our ways are tried and true and we enjoy what our laws have to offer because there is order in our lives. If that resurrection that you teach about is true, then Jesus “at the resurrection whose wife will my widow be, since [seven of us] … were married to her?” (Luke 20:33) Tell us Jesus…

The relevant answers begin with the right questions.

clip_image010

If we read today’s Gospel text closely, Jesus did not directly answer their question. Jesus did give them an answer, however:

NIV Luke 20:34 The people … marry and are given in marriage. 36 … They are God’s children, since they are children of the resurrection. 38 [God] is not the God of the dead, but of the living … "

 

Jesus, makes the point that it is much more important to demonstrate our connection with God in the way we live our lives than by splitting theological hairs about imaginary “what if” scenarios. Jesus encouraged his listeners to concentrate on the gift of life that was given to them in the present, and what an awesome opportunity it is to be a bearer of God’s love and grace in the world. Jesus made the point that the Law was given to reflect the love of God for his children, but somehow God’s children managed to retain the laws and regulations and lose the love.

 

So the question is: what’s in it for us? What can we learn from today’s readings and how can we apply what we learn to our lives?

 

All of us strive to find meaning in the stories in the Holy Writings; that is one of the aspects of having a relationship with a living God. All of us struggle with how the Holy Writings of our faith influence our lives. The Holy Writings combined with our life experiences, our ability to think and the traditions of our culture give answers to the questions that are being asked in every era, by every generation and by every person.

clip_image012

Last week, our country held midterm elections and, among other things, there was an animated discussion as to what we need to do with healthcare and with Social Security.

 

Because of increased life expectancy and low birth rates our country is facing a smaller work force and a larger pool of retirees. That makes it difficult to fix Social Security the way it is set up at this time.

 

Sociologists tell us that our country is trending towards more and more people being under-employed or unemployed. Word “fun-employed” was recently added to our dictionary. Word “fun-emoployed” describes people who lost hope of finding meaningful employment and instead concentrate on finding meaning and fulfilment in their lives through other means. I read somewhere that by 2050, unemployment rate is forecasted to be forty percent. That makes it difficult to fix healthcare the way it is set up at this time because it is so tightly interconnected to our FULL-TIME employment.

 

Most people in our country agree that we need to do something and most people in our country are scared of the changes that have to happen in our society in order to fix healthcare and social security. In effect what we are saying is that we want something done but we do not want to change anything about ourselves or our society.

 

When we are scared, we have to make a choice whether

1. We want understand what we are afraid of, possibly learn something new, and make adjustments in our lives,

2. We want to fight whatever we are scared of, or

3. We want to run away.

 

Running away is not an option.

 

Fighting each other and demonizing each other the way it was done during the pre-election campaign is counterproductive. Although we may not agree with all of their platforms, “Red,” “Blue,” and “Tea” candidates are decent human beings that want the best for their country and are willing to dedicate their lives to public service.

 

The only viable option that we have left is to understand what we are facing as a country and be willing to make changes in our lives and in our society.

{Illustration relevant to jobs – high tech, blue collar, white collar, agricultural, service sectors. Connection between jobs and education}

clip_image014

As the followers of Jesus we are invited to be a community of sisters and brothers united by his blood. Our HOPE is that we are a community; our strength is that we ARE a community.

 

We are invited to be the hands and feet of God; to be bearers of his love and grace as we face our lives and our world. As Christians we can demand that our elected officials stop mudslinging and that they instead concentrate on resolutions to the issues that our society currently faces. But we cannot expect politicians to change unless we ourselves are willing to be diligent in understanding other points of view and willing to work together to find solutions. As Christians, we are called to be a catalyst of positive change and reconciliation. As Christians, we are called to be a catalyst of understanding and productive dialogue.

clip_image016

As Christians, we are called to use the guidance of the Holy Spirit to illuminate all aspects of our lives and help as bridge our past with our future.

clip_image018

clip_image020

clip_image022

clip_image024

In his letter to Thessalonians, Paul gives this advice:

NIV 2 Thessalonians 2:1 … we ask you, brothers [and sisters], not to become easily unsettled or alarmed by some prophecy, report or letter [or question].

13 … we ought always … thank God for you, brothers loved by the Lord, because from the beginning God chose you to be saved through the sanctifying work of the Spirit and through belief in the truth. He called you to this through our gospel, that you might share in the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. 15 So then, brothers, stand firm and hold to the teachings we passed on to you, whether by word of mouth or by letter. 16 May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, … 17 encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good deed and word.

clip_image026

Being connected to God is a challenge and an invitation to be gracious and loving “in every good deed and word.” We are all human and all of us know that some situations challenge us more than others. Sometimes the world is a scary and challenging place, but we can take comfort and strength in the fact that God is with us. That is why Jesus himself established the sacrament of the Holy Communion.

 

Holy Communion gives us an opportunity to confess those times when we were less then loving and gracious and imagine ways we can correct it. Holy Communion gives us energy to productively deal with challenges of our lives without running away or getting stuck in unproductive debates.

{Transition to the Holy Communion}

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: