Sunday, November 11, 2007

The Main Truth of God

My posts are usually sermons, but I am not preaching these days as I am on an extended medical leave from my parishes. Today I didn't feel up to going to church somewhere so John and I did church at home, which is a lovely, simple thing to do every once and a great while. I came across a sermon of Walter Brueggemann's on the Gospel for today (Luke 20:27-38). An excerpt:

[The test of the Sadducees regarding the woman with seven husbands and the resurrection] is a perfect trap of religious tradition in conflict with powerful, evangelical hope. Surely God will do nothing that runs beyond our tight religious control. They sense, as surely Jesus knew, that resurrection is dangerous business. It is not just about the dead person being resuscitated. It is about God's power for life that moves into all our arrangements, shatters all our categories by which we manage, control, and administer. It speaks about God's will for life working where we thought our tired deathliness would prevail. And the Sadducees plead: Please tell us that such dangerous life will not come among us.

[Jesus says to them,] If you want to talk about Moses and Torah and marriage and one and seven and husbands, and all of that, you can, but I will not linger there. He quickly dismisses all this and he speaks about God whom he knows so well and whom we confess that he embodies. Of course there is a resurrection. Of course there is a coming new age. Of course the power for life will prevail. Of course the world will not fit into our little categories. And this is true, not because of magic or tradition or Torah. It is true because of the character and purpose and faithfulness of God who will make all things new. He then delivers the central message: "Now he is not God of the dead, but of the living."

We are here at the main truth of God. God wills life. God has power for life. God will work life among us. All our political, moral, theological tinkering around the edges does no touch the main truth of God that God gives new life which shatters all our ways of control. We are here at the main truth of our own life. The God of life wills life for us.

Now this is a hard word to us, insofar as we are children of the Sadducees. For those of us who traffic in the church with our little truths, for those of us who ... imagine we will be saved by our knowing [or] ... our reason, this is a hard word, because it announces that the management of our life is beyond us and we can feel undone.

But the hard word is a good word...What we sense to be a deep shattering can also be a beginning again. The power of God for life, the power of resurrection is the breaking of the vicious cycles of death...Al around us the power of the resurrection is breaking out against oppression, and the old weary categories of bondage, intolerance, and brutality are now called into question. The news is that God's power for life will not be overridden or resisted or defeated. Close to home, the cold despair of our deathliness will be overcome. God will have God's say.

I apologize to Dr. Brueggemann for the copyright law I have just broken, but this story and his words about it speak deeply into my own soul at this time in my life, as well as, I believe, the soul of the church. I would write more about why I think that is, but I am tired, so it will have to suffice for those who have ears to hear.

[The sermon of Brueggemann's is from the collection of is sermons entitled The Threat of Life published by Augsburg Fortress].


Clark R. West said...

Dear Michael,
Thank you for sharing this beautiful passage from Brueggemann. I am sorry to hear that you are not feeling well. I have you and John in my thoughts and prayers.
Your brother in resurrection life,


Brilliant, dear one. Thanks for sharing it with us ...

Prayers Continue to Ascend,