It’s Alive!

2/20/2022

Message Title: It’s Alive!
Theme: “Here Is the Church” 1 Corinthians series
Season: Epiphany
Main Text: 1 Corinthians 15:35-38, 42-50;
Scripture Reading: Luke 6:27-38
RCL Scripture: Genesis 45:3-11, 15; Psalm 37:1-11, 39-40; 1 Corinthians 15:35-38, 42-50; Luke 6:27-38
Focus: Paul speaks of the resurrection of our bodies.
Function:
To allow questions to remain unanswered while being filled with a focus on our commission.
Other Notes:

SCRIPTURE READING: Luke 6:27-38 “But I say to you who are willing to hear: Love your enemies. Do good to those who hate you. Bless those who curse you. Pray for those who mistreat you. If someone slaps you on the cheek, offer the other one as well. If someone takes your coat, don’t withhold your shirt either. Give to everyone who asks and don’t demand your things back from those who take them. Treat people in the same way that you want them to treat you. “If you love those who love you, why should you be commended? Even sinners love those who love them. If you do good to those who do good to you, why should you be commended? Even sinners do that. If you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, why should you be commended? Even sinners lend to sinners expecting to be paid back in full. Instead, love your enemies, do good, and lend expecting nothing in return. If you do, you will have a great reward. You will be acting the way children of the Most High act, for he is kind to ungrateful and wicked people. Be compassionate just as your Father is compassionate. “Don’t judge, and you won’t be judged. Don’t condemn, and you won’t be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. Give, and it will be given to you. A good portion—packed down, firmly shaken, and overflowing—will fall into your lap. The portion you give will determine the portion you receive in return.”

INTRO: Gifts at Funerals

  1. AUDIENCE ENGAGEMENT: What are typical ways we care for a grieving family when you know someone who has lost a loved one?
  2. I’m unsure where the tradition started that at funerals we provide “gifts” such as flowers, casseroles, words, or memoriam.
    1. Personal story of people trying to give the gift of words: My dad grew up in California and did not experience a funeral with memoriam gifts until moving to South Dakota. We were, however, very accustomed to the gift of words people would provide at a funeral.
      1. One of my favorite people on the planet was my Uncle Stephen, my dad’s little brother. He had Down Syndrome and was nonverbal but we had a special connection. He lived most of his life in Texas but the last few years, he lived in South Dakota and we got to see him regularly.
      2. Stephen lived a longer than average life for folks with his condition.  His life was a wonderful one but when he died of complications with pneumonia, there were people who tried to comfort us in his death by saying “Aren’t you glad he isn’t retarded anymore?”
      3. Now this phrase was problem to me for more than one reason, but we’ll talk about that later.  
  3. When we come to a funeral with the goal of making the grieved feel better, we’re guaranteed to make a jerk out of ourselves…. Or even sometimes make a jerk of God, i.e. “God needed an angel.”

TRANSITION:  When it comes to grief, perhaps the best gift we can offer is presence- our time, our hugs, maybe coming to do laundry, dishes, or provide a meal while they grieve. (Honestly, this is the best stuff you can do for new parents too.)

In our text today, Paul is providing words for the Corinthians about their fears connected to death. A conversation that doesn’t end in this letter but continues on in 2nd Corinthians too. Will the Corinthians find comfort in Paul’s words or will they feel like the words at my uncle’s funeral?

MAIN TEXT: 1 Corinthians 15:35-38, 42-50;

Vs 35-38, 42-44 35 But someone will say, “How are the dead raised? What kind of body will they have when they come back?” 36 Look, fool! When you put a seed into the ground, it doesn’t come back to life unless it dies. 37 What you put in the ground doesn’t have the shape that it will have, but it’s a bare grain of wheat or some other seed. 38 God gives it the sort of shape that he chooses, and he gives each of the seeds its own shape. …42 It’s the same with the resurrection of the dead: a rotting body is put into the ground, but what is raised won’t ever decay. 43 It’s degraded when it’s put into the ground, but it’s raised in glory. It’s weak when it’s put into the ground, but it’s raised in power. 44 It’s a physical body when it’s put into the ground, but it’s raised as a spiritual body. If there’s a physical body, there’s also a spiritual body.

  1. Resurrection questions: The topic of resurrection was constantly on the forefront for believers of Paul’s day. To the point where some Christians actually stopped working just waiting for Christ’s return. Others pondered, studied, and debated the details of the resurrection. It’s no surprise that the Corinthians wanted more details.
    1. Continuing conversation:
      1. 2 Cor 4 & 5 briefly touch on this again
      2. He also talks to the Thessalonians, Philippians, & Romans about this (Romans 6:5; 1 Thess 4:13-18, Philippians 3:10-11)
  2. Seed analogy: while Paul doesn’t go into great details, he does use the analogy of a seed to describe the change we will experience through resurrection.

Vs 45-50 45 So it is also written, The first human, Adam, became a living person,[e] and the last Adam became a spirit that gives life. 46 But the physical body comes first, not the spiritual one—the spiritual body comes afterward. 47 The first human was from the earth made from dust; the second human is from heaven. 48 The nature of the person made of dust is shared by people who are made of dust, and the nature of the heavenly person is shared by heavenly people. 49 We will look like[f] the heavenly person in the same way as we have looked like the person made from dust. 50 This is what I’m saying, brothers and sisters: Flesh and blood can’t inherit God’s kingdom. Something that rots can’t inherit something that doesn’t decay. 

  1. First Adam vs Second Adam (Jesus) – In Genesis 3 everything changes for Adam & Eve. They choose their own path rather than God’s wisdom.This lead to division from God, a separation of physical and spiritual.
    1. Image of Eve & Mary—God sent God’s self through Jesus to heal the human condition.
    2. Fully Human & Fully God: Jesus was human to heal the human condition. Jesus was God because only God could be perfect under the Law.
  2. Our Transformation through Christ: Paul highlights that through faith in Christ, something changes.
    1. Christians disagree exactly on the details of this change:
      1. Some believe that humans were made sinful (original sin or total depravity) and God *transforms* us treasure through Jesus.
      2. Others believe that humans were made holy—in God’s image—and our choices separated us from our holiness. Christ *restores* our connection to our holy identity.
      3. Good news- theology doesn’t save us, belief in Jesus saves us…  the details are up to God.

INTERPRETATION:

  1. This section of chapter 15 feels the most relatable to me. Yes, I realize there have been very practical lessons thus far. BUT Paul is connecting with the Corinthians on their BAZILLION questions. And if we’re honest, Paul doesn’t clear much up for us here.
    1. I still have so many questions! (Gif)
  2. Much like the answer to Jesus’ crucifixion, Christians have made a bunch of theories about how and when Christ will return, what the resurrection will look like and for who.
    1. Eschatology- is a part of theology concerned with the final events of history, or the ultimate destiny of humanity. This concept is commonly referred to as “the end of the world” or “end times” (Wiki)
      1. Comes from eschatos, a word for the end.
    2. Christians have a ton of end times theories.
      1. You may have heard buzz words in Christian circles like: rapture, pre trib, post trib, amillenial, etc.
      2. Some things to note: Not every Christian group believes in a rapture BUT all Christians believe in a resurrection.
      3. Believing in “right” theology doesn’t save us, belief in Jesus saves us.
    3. Throughout this chapter, Paul highlights that the resurrection is not simply a spiritual transformation but a resurrection of body & spirit. Every part of us will be transformed by God.

APPLICATION/RESPONSE/SO WHAT?: To allow questions to remain unanswered while being filled with a focus on our commission.

  1. personal story: Back to Uncle Stephen & Grandma Billie
    1. Personal Story: I have to admit any time I hear about resurrected bodies I think of my Grandma Billie. Grandma Billie repeatedly said she would be tall in heaven. It reminds me of the words of “comfort” we received at my uncle’s funeral. My grandmother and that person both focused on physical flaws from a human/earthly perspective.
      1. BUT what if our resurrected bodies are transformed not to remove our flaws like a photoshop brush but to enable us to better connect with community and with God?
      2. What if my uncle still has down syndrome BUT now he can communicate clearly with others AND others pay attention?!
      3. What if my grandmother found peace in her 4’ 10 3/4” body? What if she didn’t feel limited because of her height?
      4. What if a person’s social anxiety is removed rather than whatever flaw they see when they look in the mirror?
  2. Jesus’ (transfiguration &) resurrection in the Gospel accounts tells us that some kind of transformation will happen that could lead to us being unrecognizable. After all, Mary Magdalene thought Jesus was the gardener when she went to visit the tomb. It wasn’t until he spoke her name that she saw him clearly.
    1. I may not be able to tell you that you will be tall in eternity BUT I can say you will be transformed, still yourself but more fully you than you’ve ever been before.
  3. I know that it would be convenient for Paul’s words to be crystal clear about what to expect. However, the resurrection is full of mystery. We don’t know when it will happen. We don’t know exactly the details of what will happen.
    1. BUT we know that God is good. We know that God plans to conquer evil. We know that God wants the best for creation.
  4. how does the promised resurrection impact us today?
    1. Silly Joke: Be kind to everyone, you don’t know who will be your neighbor in eternity.
    2. The end details are a mystery, however we have a clear mission for the present.
      1. Matthew 28:18-20 18 Jesus came near and spoke to them, “I’ve received all authority in heaven and on earth. 19 Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to obey everything that I’ve commanded you. Look, I myself will be with you every day until the end of this present age.”
      2. Acts 1:7-8 Jesus replied, “It isn’t for you to know the times or seasons that the Father has set by his own authority. Rather, you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”

CONCLUSION: We are called to witness to the world about Jesus. Witness in our words, our actions, and our love. We wait for the return of Christ and the resurrection of all. Until then, let’s stick to the job God has for us.

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