Thursday, December 4, 2014

Healing the horrors: All are alive

"Now he is the God not of the dead, but of the living; for to him all of them are alive."

Lately we've endured a great deal of horror in Charlottesville: The abduction and murder of a second-year student, Hannah Graham, and then the revelations in Rolling Stone magazine about a sub-culture of rape and alcohol abuse in some of the fraternities. Anyone who has been here for any length of time was not surprised at these revelations. That has set off a firestorm that has not abated. We have preached on this, and posted a great deal on our St. Paul's Facebook page, so I do not propose to repeat any of that here.

We've also suffered a great deal of loss in the parish -- 20 deaths so far this year, an average of nearly every other week. We have a lot of hurting, grieving people right now.

With that backdrop, this morning's Daily Office reading from Luke 20:27-40 struck me in a new way. To set the scene, Jesus is gathered with rabbis who are questioning him about whether a woman who was married and widowed seven times has a husband in heaven.

There are contemporary commentators who seize on this passage as proof that marriage is between a man and a woman. But as I read it, I think that is quite beside the point Jesus makes. He is telling us that marriage is human artifact, a rite, and that in heaven everyone is a child of God. Marriage ceremonies and cultural customs don't mean much in heaven.

But there was something else that struck me this morning, and it isn't about marriage issues. In fact, it is the larger point Jesus makes: "Now he is the God not of the dead, but of the living; for to him all of them are alive."

"...all of them are alive."

All of the trials and horrors will pass away. All who are sick will be healed. This life is but a small slice of the spectrum of life. Those who are hurting will be healed, the grieving will have their tears wiped away. No one will be driven away. For to God, all are alive. No one is dead.

By James Richardson, Fiat Lux

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