Saturday, 7 May 2016

Living Spirit - sermon 8th May

1 Cor 15: 1-26, 51-57 

The Holy Spirit is alive and well – and moving and showing herself in all sorts of places.
And it is through that living Spirit which dwells in each of us that Paul wrote his convoluted, tongue twister of a letter…

And it is through that same Living Spirit, that I – some two thousand years later attempt to make some sense of it in this strange week.

A week of much busyness

A week of working and juggling house guests
A week of thinking about death and dying and resurrection
A week of talking about impending death with one who faces the final journey
A week of sadness and joy
A week of hopes and fear
A week of news and silence
A week when life matches exactly with Sunday’s text – which makes walking with the text both easier and more challenging in equal measure
And. More than that. 
A week to say “Thank you” to God, for prayers heard and answered

 So, my very first question, when I sat down with this text was – what does it mean? 

How can I distil all of that into a simple, understandable message, and how do we understand this mysterious statement that we will not all die? Hmm…. 

A minister friend, Stephanie wrote this earlier in the week:

“Jesus’ resurrection destroys the power of death; not death itself. People still die. Jesus still died. But he did not stay dead, and neither will we.”
That’s it in a nutshell – all of that convoluted back and forth is summed up right there.
People do still die
But they do not stay dead
Life goes on bigger, brighter, more beautiful, more real, more tangible, clearer – more alive. 

The Message translation includes a really great interpretation:

If you became believers because you trusted the proclamation that Christ is alive, risen from the dead, how can you let people say that there is no such thing as a resurrection? If there’s no resurrection, there’s no living Christ. And face it—if there’s no resurrection for Christ, everything we’ve told you is smoke and mirrors, and everything you’ve staked your life on is smoke and mirrors. 

Smoke and mirrors.

Yes – real, not a trick, not a hoax, not pretend and not sleight of hand.
Yes! Either the Resurrection is true 
Or we are deceived.
And I do not believe we are deceived – not for one moment.
Remember what it is that we proclaim – that God so loved the world that he sent his own Son so that those who believe in Him can have eternal life. 

This doesn’t mean we live forever; nor does it mean that this earthly life is without meaning. This life is ours to live to the full

It is ours to do whatever we can
We’ve all seen the cards, posters, pictures etc. that say something to the effect of live each day as if it were your last. A great sentiment, but not one that we actually really adhere to – unless we are suddenly faced with our own mortality. 

Life is too short to take it for granted.

Live life 
Love well
Make sure that those whom you love know it.
Make sure that you take the opportunities to do what really matters.
Because no one dies saying, I wish I’d spent more time in the office… 
The Message goes on to say:
 It was sin that made death so frightening and law-code guilt that gave sin its leverage, its destructive power. But now in a single victorious stroke of Life, all three—sin, guilt, death—are gone, the gift of our Master, Jesus Christ. Thank God! 

People still die.

People we love; people we want to hold on to.
But – the power that death holds is diminished, destroyed, gone, through Jesus.
People we love will still die
But they will not stay dead – for this is our hope. 
The hope of eternity.
We will all be reunited
We will all meet again
We will all celebrate
The gift of our precious Saviour Jesus Christ
God’s promise to us
And the real hope and joy of the gospel
In Christ we live

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