22 Pentecost, Year C: Children of the Resurrection

SUNDAY’S READINGS | November 6, 2022

Hag. 1:15b-2:9 or Job 19:23-27a
Ps. 145:1-5, 18-21 or Ps. 98 or Ps. 17:1-9
2 Thess. 2:1-5, 13-17
Luke 20:27-38

At the beginning of the burial rite, an anthem is read or sung. Among several options, the most popular begins with the words of Jesus from the Gospel According to St. John: “I am the resurrection and the life.” The second verse draws from the Book of Job: “As for me, I know that my Redeemer lives.” The third is a quotation from St. Paul: “For if we have life, we are alive in the Lord, and if we die, we die in the Lord.” The final verse, taken from the Book of Revelation, strikes a note of victory: “Happy from now on are those who die in the Lord! So it is, says the Spirit, for they rest from their labors.” Often recited slowly as the celebrant walks the length of the nave, this anthem of 22 lines fills the church with a solemn sense of loss and hope.

What is our hope? Job was not hoping for an ethereal heaven. He was hoping to be vindicated in his earthly body. “For I know that my Redeemer lives, and that at the last he will stand upon the earth; and after my skin has been thus destroyed, then in my flesh I shall see God, whom I shall see on my side, and my eyes shall behold, and not another” (Job 19:25-27). Christians share this hope, saying, in the words of the Apostles’ Creed, “I believe in the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting.” The resurrection is a vindication of the created order. The resurrection tells us not that this life does not matter but that it matters immensely.

Writing to the Christians in Thessalonica, St. Paul tells them not to believe “that the day of the Lord is already here” (2 Thess. 2:1-2). He speaks of “the glory of the Lord” as something yet to be obtained (2 Thess. 2:14). He advises that they “stand firm and hold fast to the traditions that you were taught by us, either by word of mouth or by our letter” (2 Thess. 2:15). He prays that “our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father … comfort your hearts and strengthen them in every good work and word” (2 Thess. 2:16-17). He warns them against certain “believers who are living in idleness” (2 Thess. 3:6). The thrust of his teaching is that we are to go on living responsibly in this world. “Now such persons we command and exhort in the Lord Jesus Christ to do their work quietly and to earn their own living” (2 Thess. 3:11-12). Hoping to share in the resurrection of Jesus Christ, we commit ourselves to this world and know that this world is on the threshold of glory.

Jesus says, “Those who belong to this age marry and are given in marriage; but those who are considered worthy of a place in that age and in the resurrection from the dead neither marry nor are given in marriage. Indeed they cannot die anymore because they are like angels and children of God, being children of the resurrection” (Luke 20:34-36).

What can we say of the angelic and embodied life we await? It will lack the anguish of mortal existence. “Sorrow and pain [will be] no more, neither sighing, but life everlasting” (BCP, p. 499).We marry and are given in marriage. We work quietly and earn our own living. We participate in the earthly city and work for its well-being, yet we do all this knowing we will be like angels among a cloud of witnesses in blazing glory.

Look It Up: The Collect

Think About It: We purify ourselves precisely by living this life to the glory of God.

Advertisements

Online Archives

Search