From the Pastor's Desk

Pastor's Message  April 2021

 
Dear People of God at Good Shepherd Lutheran Church,      
     Hope you are safe and well as you can be during these Covid times.
     We have talked about grace and we have talked about faith.  During this month of April we will celebrate the resurrection of Jesus, so how about we talk about resurrection and eternal life.
     I wish our Holy Scripture was really clear about that subject but it just isn’t.  In fact, in the earliest times, “eternal life” was understood to be lived out or lived on within the family name.  Eternal life meant you had sons who could carry on your name.  Eternal life was lived here, in this world, through the family.
     Resurrection came much later, as a hope for those who had died as martyrs.  It was a matter of God’s justice that was at stake.  The thinking was that God could not possibly let death be the last word for those who had endured faithfully until the end.  Resurrection became the solution but only for the righteous, the faithful.  There was no resurrection for the unmartyr.  A general resurrection of all people, both good and bad, was certainly around by Jesus’ time and continues into our day.
     So when Jesus rises from the dead, it was not a novel idea, or something that had not been heard about before, it was something for which God’s people had been hoping and waiting.  Jesus, on the one hand, was the perfect martyr, dying for his faith in God.  Jesus was the “first fruits of those who had fallen asleep.”  Jesus’ resurrection continued the hope that God had the power over death and had accomplished it in Jesus.
     So resurrection is God’s answer to the thing that haunts us all, our deaths.  God’s power to create in the beginning is accomplished once again in our resurrection.
     What is not clear is where that resurrected life takes place.  In some places, “eternal life” will be somewhere other than on this earth, in heaven we say, with God.  Streets of gold, pearly gates, flowing fountains are parts of this “heavenly home.” In other places, “eternal life” will take place here, in a recreated, brand new earth, with God.  The Apostle Paul, in the book of Romans, reminds us that even creation is groaning, longing to be made new.  What all views of resurrected life hold in common is the belief that all things are new, no sorrow, no death, no destruction, just life with God, one another and all of creation.  Resurrected life reversed the effects of the garden story and humans are back in harmony with all God made, the only question is where that might take place.
     Some have understood “eternal life” to mean a life that does not ever end, a quantity of life.   Others have understood “eternal life” to mean both a quantity of life and a quality of life.  John’s gospel in particular holds out this view.  John records these words of Jesus, “Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.”  For John, eternal life is both here and now and later, as folks do come to know the only true God and therefore have “eternal life.” 
     Finally, what we believe to be true about resurrection and eternal life, is that this life is not all there is, death will not be the final word over us, while we might not be able to say what kind of life or where it will be, we only trust it will be with God, with one another and all of creation, restored, made new, never to end, all made possible by the powerful, creative grace of God.
          As always, I invite your conversation.
God’s peace on your days.
Pastor Tom
 
Good Shepherd Lutheran Church at Swan's Trail 2020 Newsletters

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