I love to preach at the local senior assisted living facility. Members of the local ministerial alliance sign up on a rota and I try to get my name down for about once a month.
This year during the Easter season I was preaching on the resurrection. No surprise there. However, making relevant for the over-80 crowd, I was emphasizing how Jesus’ resurrection means we, too, will be resurrected. Jesus’ glorified body means that we, too, will have glorified bodies. I talked about how being absent from the body to be present with the Lord is a temporary arrangement.
I thought this would be encouragement to those statistically closer to that temporary arrangement that I am. I didn’t expect that it would be a shocking revelation. After all, some of these old people have been walking with God much longer than I have been alive.
Somehow, this was news. Some of these people, who had been in church all of their lives, had only ever heard of dying and going to heaven. That was the extent of their idea of personal eschatology. That was their expected goal.
The epistle readings in the BCP Daily Office (my lectionary of choice) for the last several days have been out of 1 Corinthians 15. While this is certainly already one of my favorite chapters in the New Testament, it has been nice to look at a little bit of it each day, meditating on the wonders of what Christ’s Resurrection means to us and for us. It changed everything.
Without it, there’s just a dead Galilean carpenter’s son nailed to Roman lumber. Instead, the Son of God has trampled down death by death, and bestowed life upon those in the tombs.
Without it, we are men most miserable, and our faith is futile, having no hope. Instead, we have eternal life in fellowship with the One Who made us.
Not long after our Norwegian son-for-a-year came to live with us, we were talking about the churches in Norway. He told us about Nidaros Cathedral. He referred to it as the place where the king is sleeping. He was referring to King Olaf II – also known as St. Olaf – the first Christian king of Norway. He wasn’t making a theological statement, just a Norwegian one. It is the English translation of the Norwegian term for the body lying in the grave. It is a biblical term, used in 1 Corinthians 15:51, as well other places in the New Testament.
One day a bunch of dirt in Goliad, Texas will be excavated and my body will sleep there in the space created. It will sleep next to my parents, my brother, my grandmother, a set of great-grandparents who original bought the plot, cousins, uncles, and eventually who knows who else. We all may sleep there even long after the gravestones have worn away.
But there will be a time when time is no more. And there will be a day when the long night of sleep is over. The dust of my flesh will be reformed into a new, incorruptible body. I will be of the same substance in my humanity as my Lord is in His humanity.
So when this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory.”