Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Sermon Scraps . . . well, not really

Hey there, blog-o-peeps. I must apologize for neglecting you for the last 2 months or so. I have no good excuse, except that the holidays happened and then . . . well life keeps happening. Here's my proposal. I'm in the midst of preparing my theological project for ordination. How about I blog about it? Tonight I began working on the 4 theological questions all ordinands must answer for our project. They are:

1. What theological issue are you especially engaged in working out for yourself at this time?

2. What is your understanding of salvation with attention to the work of Christ in atonement and with attention to the human condition?

3. What is the meaning/significance of the sacraments? What is the meaning/significance of ordination?

4. What is your understanding of the Christian eschatological hope expressed in the Kingdom of God, Resurrection from the Dead, and eternal life?

Tonight, I've been working on number four. I don't think my answer is finished yet, not even finished with this draft, but I think I want to post it tonight anyway. I have an article to read tonight from, THE FAITH WE CONFESS, by Jan Milic Lochman about the resurrection of the dead and maybe one to read about the communion of the saints. I figure I'll read those before bed, and perhaps, they will influence my answer some. If so, I'll update my answer and post it again tomorrow. If I don't feel like they've added to my answer, I'll post on another question.

So here is what I wrote tonight:

4. What is your understanding of the Christian eschatological hope expressed in the Kingdom of God, Resurrection from the Dead, and eternal life?

          In the gospel accounts Jesus makes reference to the Kingdom of God or Kingdom of Heaven repeatedly. At the beginning of his ministry, Jesus proclaimed the good news of God, saying the kingdom of God has come near; repent and believe in the good news (Mark 1.13). The Kingdom of God, as Jesus proclaimed it was and is radical, and even revolutionary. Just the phrase the kingdom of heaven implies that there is kingdom other than Caesar’s. It was a threat to the Roman Empire. Today it is no less revolutionary. When we proclaim the Good News of the Kingdom of God, we proclaim a promise of change. In our world, where Sin seems to be the only constant, where evil seems to reign, and injustice seems to be victorious, we proclaim that God’s kingdom has begun and will come and what seems will not always be so.
The Statement of Faith of the Korean Methodist Church reads, “We believe in the reign of God as the divine will realized in human society, and in the family of God, where we are all brothers and sisters.”[1] Theologian Ida Maria Isasi-Dias coined the term the Kin-dom of God, in which we are all related and inter-connected. I believe this is the hope of the Kingdom of God – a kingdom where social divisions are non-existent, where all have enough, where we are as concerned for our neighbors as we are for our own families, because our neighbors are members of our family.
Jesus said the greatest commandment was to love the Lord, your God with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your mind, and the second is to love your neighbor as yourself (Matthew 22: 37 – 39). Within those two commandments, there are three – love God, love your neighbor, and love yourself. I believe that most of humanity does not know how to love themselves, which means they have no idea how to love God or their neighbors. In fact, Sin tells us that we are not worthy of love. As the Holy Spirit works in us, healing us, we find ourselves learning how to love. This work of the Holy Spirit in our lives and in our world moves us toward perfection, toward a full and perfect relationship with God, with each other and with ourselves, which is the hope expressed in the Kingdom of God. This kingdom has begun in the Christ event and will be completed in the parousia.[2]
Each Sunday in worship, I invite my congregation to affirm our faith. Regardless of which affirmation of faith we use, each Sunday we proclaim our faith in the resurrection of the dead. In Romans 6, Paul tells us that in baptism we have died with Christ, or we have taken on the death of Christ. He goes on to say in chapter 8, the one who “raised Christ from the dead will give life to your mortal bodies also through his Spirit that dwells in you.”
Charles Hartshorne states that after we die, what we have been continues to be, especially in God, but also in those we leave behind. Our influence of the lives of those we knew continues on, but they no longer influence us. What we have been continues but we no longer continue to be.[3] In essence, for Hartshorne, when we die, we die, and we are no more – at least we have no future influence. While Hartshorne speaks to the rational and reasonable yearning within my theology, the faith I confess each Sunday disagrees. It may not be rational, and I may not fully understand how, but I believe that Christ will come in final victory, and my body will be resurrected, fully resurrected.
The Gospel according to Saint John, where the resurrected Jesus makes the most appearances is unclear, at best, in describing what the resurrection looks like. In some places, he seems like a ghost. He walks through walls in John 20:19, and 26. In John 20:27, he tells Thomas to place his hands in his wounds, as if he is a resuscitated corpse. He's spirit and he's material, or bodily. He cannot be both, so I would say that he is neither a ghost nor a corpse. In his resurrected form, Jesus is something entirely different, never before encountered. Therefore it is not unreasonable to hold faith in the resurrection of the body, without knowing exactly what that resurrection will look like.       

[1] United Methodist Hymnal, 884
[2] Sampley, J Paul. Walking Between the Times.
[3] Hartshorne, Charles. Omnipotence and Other Theological Mistakes. 44 – 49

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