Resurrection Stations: To Be in that Number 5-12-13

We are concluding our series on resurrection today. We have investigated how early Christians respected the body so much that they called for people to believe just in spiritual resurrection, but the resurrection of the body. They also had a vision of a holy city in which Jerusalem comes from the sky, so that there would be heaven on earth. So after challenging you to stretch your ideas of death and resurrection to include the body and the city of God, today we look at the saints and the body of Christ, how understanding the thin line between life and death helps us deeply respect all God’s people and expect them to act like they are part of the Christ’s body.

Ephesians 1:15-23 That’s why, when I heard of the solid trust you have in the Master Jesus and your outpouring of love to all the followers of Jesus, I couldn’t stop thanking God for you—every time I prayed, I’d think of you and give thanks. But I do more than thank. I ask—ask the God of our Master, Jesus Christ, the God of glory—to make you intelligent and discerning in knowing him personally, your eyes focused and clear, so that you can see exactly what it is he is calling you to do, grasp the immensity of this glorious way of life he has for his followers, oh, the utter extravagance of his work in us who trust him—endless energy, boundless strength! 20-23 All this energy issues from Christ: God raised him from death and set him on a throne in deep heaven, in charge of running the universe, everything from galaxies to governments, no name and no power exempt from his rule. And not just for the time being, but forever. He is in charge of it all, has the final word on everything. At the center of all this, Christ rules the church. The church, you see, is not peripheral to the world; the world is peripheral to the church. The church is Christ’s body, in which he speaks and acts, by which he fills everything with his presence.

May 12, 2013

Stations of Resurrection: To Be in that Number

Video about mothers

Life does not come with a manual. It comes with a mother.  I can relate to that. I keep my mother beside me – as close as this quilt that she made for me and gave me when I was ordained. Her loving presence guides my life and my ministry. I can’t thank her enough for the gift of life and for the gift of an upbeat, understanding, tough, gentle love.
But, as the writer of Ephesians says, I don’t just thank God for mothers, I ask God, I pray to God for a continuing deepening of a spirit of wisdom and discerning, a vision of a world made the way mothers would want it to be for all their children.  Our mothers are not perfect. None of them are, and some of them are far from saintly, despite our desire on a day like this to sanctify them. We all need to be reaching for God’s wisdom to build a world worthy of our mothers. We need to be able to see with “the eyes of our heart,” as Ephesians puts it. “the eyes of our hearts.”
With the eyes of our hearts, we give up our hopelessness about the world, and we can see that God in Jesus Christ has already reclaimed this world. That’s the power of the Gospel. That’s the power of the Biblical witness to the ascension of Jesus, which we celebrate today – that the battle has already been won. That God is in charge. It’s a wild claim, but that’s what the early Christian church was saying about Christ’s “rule and authority and power and hand in the heavenly places.”

Let me be a little more concrete about that and relate it to Mothers’ Day.  Another faith claim we hear in this passage is about “the riches of God’s glorious inheritance among the saints.” We think of mothers as being saintly and particularly mothers who have gone on before us. We think of them as saints, part of the body of Christ. Judy Bohot is part of the resurrected body of Christ; Mary Arnott is part of the resurrected body of Christ; Jean Dobson, Ginger Myers, Elaine Sands, insert your mother’s name here – all part of the body of Christ.
The interesting thing is that for Christians, the line between life and death is thinner than for the rest of the world. So our claim that our mothers are saints is not just idealizing, syrupy religious talk. It is a claim that they too are part of the body of Christ, part of what God is doing in the world.
And so we hold in highest regard the mother of the young woman, Reshma, who survived 16 days under the rubble of a collapsed building in Bangladesh. We imagine the agony she has been through over the last two weeks, and though she probably is not a Christian, we can’t help seeing the powerful resurrection truth that Reshma was dead and yet now she lives.
And the same is true for the mothers of those three young women found alive after 10 years. Can you imagine the agony of Amanda Berry’s mother over that 10 year period and the elation that she too, though assumed dead, has been found alive. These mothers, these daughters we also count as part of the body of Christ.
And we don’t stop there. We count as part of the the body of Christ the 80 percent of the 12.2 million single-parent families in this country which are headed by a mother.
We count as part of the body of Christ the two-thirds of all women in prison who are mothers – and the rest of them too.
We count as part of the body of Christ the nearly half of all all lesbian women under the age of 50 who are raising a child.
We count as part of the body of Christ the mothers of wounded soldiers, the mothers who have lost a son, daughter or husband in combat.
We count as part of the body of Christ the 1.7 million grandmothers who are the primary caretakers for their grandchildren.
We believe as Christians that eternal life begins not when you die, but when you start to live; when you start to be committed to the same things God is committed to.
Our commitment to God means that we are also committed to what God is committed to: the whole of creation, as it has been filled by Christ’s presence. That is why, says archbishop Rowan Williams, “Christians are going to be a nuisance in any imaginable human society.”
Because we know that all God’s people are part of the body of Christ, because the line between life and death is more of a window than a wall, because life does not come with a manual, but with a mother, oh Lord, we want to be in that number, we know that God is in charge of our world and our lives from beginning to end and beyond the end of our lives.

2173    Shine, Jesus, Shine