Posts tagged “Resurrection

Sermo Dei: Palm Sunday 2017

Posted on April 9th, 2017

It’s nice to talk about resurrection, but the words I speak at the time of death sometimes feel hollow. It’s all future-oriented, and while I believe it, we’re still left with the corpse. Someone has to call the funeral home, someone has to open the grave, and then there we are, looking down into the earth. Most of our life is so sanitary, and even at death, we farm out the dirty work to others. But there, when the casket descends, and you see off in the distance the men waiting to come and close the vault and cover it with dirt – for just a moment, you see and you know that our clean lives are a lie. Squirt the anti-bacterial fluid, rub…

Sermo Dei: The Funeral of Barbara Pauling

Posted on November 26th, 2016

November 22, 2016 Immanuel Evangelical-Lutheran Church, Alexandria, Virginia John 10:11-16; 11:21-27 Frederick, dear brother in Christ; Ellen, Steve, Taylor, and Drew; Alyson; Steve and Melissa; and all the saints gathered here this day: Grace to you and peace from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ. Poor Martha gets a bad rap. She’s remembered mostly for being upset that her sister isn’t helping her with the meal preparations, earning her the gentle rebuke of Jesus, calling her by name twice: “Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things.” Her sister Mary is praised for devoting herself to the teaching of Jesus. But shortly before today’s Gospel reading about Jesus and Martha, St. John tells us, “Now Jesus loved Martha and her…

Sermo Dei: The Resurrection of Our Lord 2016

Posted on March 27th, 2016

  Alleluia! Christ is risen! He is risen indeed! Alleluia! Alleluia! Christ is risen! He is risen indeed! Alleluia! Alleluia! Christ is risen! He is risen indeed! Alleluia! Three years ago, an article in the New York Times described Easter this way: “Easter is the celebration of the resurrection into heaven of Jesus.” Now if you didn’t catch what was wrong with that, I’m not entirely surprised. It’s how most people think today, even many who go to church: the body dies, the spirit floats off to heaven. That is not Easter. That is not resurrection. That’s just the old Platonic philosophy masquerading as Christianity. Did you know that the Hebrew Bible makes very little distinction between what we would call the “soul” and…

Sermo Dei: The Funeral of Roy Edge

Posted on September 25th, 2015

Dear Carla, Henry and Harry, parents and friends of Roy, brothers and sisters in Christ: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and our Lord Jesus Christ. Can we blame Martha and Mary for being angry with Jesus (John 11)? Their brother Lazarus is dead, and Jesus—supposedly their close friend—was nowhere to be found. He even misses the funeral! By the time Jesus shows up, Lazarus is buried. When Jesus arrives, Martha comes out to meet Him, but Mary stays in the house. She won’t even talk to Jesus. But Martha levels her accusation: Jesus, “If you had been here, my brother would not have died.” You know how she feels. Eventually Mary comes out, and she says the same thing: “Lord,…

Sermo Dei: Pentecost 2015

Posted on May 24th, 2015

Pentecost presents an event that seems too fantastic to believe. Tongues of fire? People speaking in foreign languages they never learned? This follows other events that seem equally not believable: A man dies on a cross, is buried, only to emerge from the tomb alive, and strangely changed? And then, this man after forty days is taken up into the skies, going beyond all sight of those with Him? It seems more rational, more “scientific” to put this in the category of legend, myth, or perhaps wishful thinking. How do we know anything? Things that are repeatable can be studied by science. If the temperature falls below 32º F., water will freeze. That same water, heated properly, will boil and turn to steam. History…

Sermo Dei: Easter Monday 2015

Posted on April 8th, 2015

Alleluia! Christ is risen! He is risen indeed! Alleluia! “What kind of conversation is this that you have with one another as you walk and are sad?” Since the power of corruption entered the world, our entire race has been walking in sadness. Surely Adam wept as the blood of his son seeped into the earth. Surely Eve wept as her firstborn stormed off into exile. And our race has continued in sadness. Disciples of Jesus are not exempt. Sadness, suffering, even persecution awaits them. So many things will make us sad in this life: the struggles in the church for faithfulness and charity; the death of those we love; and the many times we have succumbed to the weakness of our fallen nature.…

Sermo Dei: The Resurrection of Our Lord 2015

Posted on April 5th, 2015

Christ is risen! He is risen indeed! Alleluia! “On Saturday we kill the Jews, on Sunday we kill the Christians.” That’s an Islamist motto, which Lela Gilbert explores in her book Saturday People, Sunday People. Christians are known as Sunday People, and all around the world the Sunday People are facing violent persecution. On Holy Thursday, 147 holy martyrs were killed in Kenya. A survivor said that when the terrorist group al-Shabaab stormed the university, they began separating the Muslims from the Christians. “If you were a Christian you were shot on the spot. With each blast of the gun I thought I was going to die” ( If you read the accounts of Christian martyrs through the centuries, you will find in them a beautiful…

Death: suspension of the law of nature

Posted on April 16th, 2014

My mother sent me this quotation from Flannery O’Connor. I don’t know the source, but it’s beautiful: The virgin birth, the incarnation, the resurrection . . . are the true laws of the flesh and the physical. Death, decay, destruction are the suspension of those laws. . . . [It] would never have occurred to human consciousness to conceive of purity if we were not to look forward to a resurrection of the body, which will be flesh and spirit united in peace, in the way they were in Christ. The resurrection of Christ seems the high point in the law of nature.

Easter freedom

Posted on April 3rd, 2013

Great thought for Easter Wednesday from Russell Moore: In the long run we’re all dead, and in the longer run we’re all raised from the dead. There’s a freedom that comes from seeing that. -Tempted and Tried: Temptation and the Triumph of Christ

Jeering, hitting, and abusing the deposed tyrant

Posted on April 2nd, 2013

Now that the Savior has raised His body, death is no longer terrible, but all those who believe in Christ tread it underfoot as nothing, and prefer to die rather than to deny their faith in Christ, knowing full well that when they die they do not perish, but live indeed, and become incorruptible through the resurrection…. Death has become like a tyrant who has become completely conquered by the legitimate monarch; bound hand and foot as he know is, the passers-by jeer at him, hitting him and abusing him, no longer afraid of his cruelty and rage, because of the king who has conquered him. So has death been conquered and branded for what it is by the Saviour on the cross. St…