Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Year C Trinity Sunday WED 2019 Eternal Now

Year C Trinity Sunday, WEDNESDAY, 19 June 2019
St. James the Less Episcopal, Ashland, VA
“Eternal Now”

Collect: Almighty and everlasting God, you have given to us your servants grace, by the confession of a true faith, to acknowledge the glory of the eternal Trinity, and in the power of your divine Majesty to worship the Unity: Keep us steadfast in this faith and worship, and bring us at last to see you in your one and eternal glory, O Father; who with the Son and the Holy Spirit live and reign, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Luke 20:27-40
Some Sadducees, those who say there is no resurrection, came to him and asked him a question, “Teacher, Moses wrote for us that if a man’s brother dies, leaving a wife but no children, the man shall marry the widow and raise up children for his brother. Now there were seven brothers; the first married, and died childless; then the second and the third married her, and so in the same way all seven died childless. Finally the woman also died. In the resurrection, therefore, whose wife will the woman be? For the seven had married her.”

Jesus said to them, “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 are children of God, being children of the resurrection. And the fact that the dead are raised Moses himself showed, in the story about the bush, where he speaks of the Lord as the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. Now he is God not of the dead, but of the living; for to him all of them are alive.” Then some of the scribes answered, “Teacher, you have spoken well.” For they no longer dared to ask him another question.

What is this passage about? What tack do we see Jesus taking? Now it starts with a “gotcha” situation where the Sadducees wanted to put egg all over Jesus’ face. They pose a ridiculous hypothetical situation that they could not care one iota about the response. They do not believe in an afterlife, so asking about marriage in the afterlife is not the intent. It was to divide, and therefore conquer, Jesus’ following. If they could get people arguing over something insignificant to them, they have won. That is the problem with binary thinking. Win Lose. Pass Fail. Right Wrong. As you have heard me say before and I repeat, Jesus reframed the question and stepped it up to a higher level.

He answers the question. The hypothetical wife is nobody’s spouse in heaven. Children of the Resurrection are “like the angels,” neither given nor received in marriage. There is no marriage in heaven. I had a secretary that talked about becoming an angel when she died. In my youthful naivete I corrected her and said that Jesus said we would be like them, not become them. She wanted hope. I gave her semantics.

But then Jesus goes on and talks of Moses and the Burning Bush. There is no death with God. We are all alive to God. God is the God of the Living, not the dead. That is why we can look at God being the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. And Sarah, and Rebekah, and Rachel. They are present tense with God, not past tense.

I am. Not I was.

If I ever write a theoretical theology book, it will be on this very topic. I have spent too many hours pondering the implications of this and a few other passages. We do not have a good theology of Time.

Time, like matter, is a creation. Our understanding of it, and experience of it, is like a stream from beginning to an ending. I like to think of it just like flowing water. We step into it. We step out of it. We go along with the flow while we are in it. God is not in it. God is above it, beyond it, can operate outside of it and inside of it. But to God, not caught in the flowing pipeline of time, the perspective is drastically different. God is at the Alpha, and at the Omega. God sees the ending and the beginning simultaneously.  There is nothing other  than the NOW to God. God resides in the Eternal Now.

It makes prayer very different. God already sees where things need to be and stacks the dominos accordingly. It is like watching a movie with my kids that I have already seen. I know the outcome. I know where it is going. I have to be careful what I share with them, already knowing where things are going. And, I can delight in their experience of it.

Jesus was God stepping into Time, stepping into Matter. Learning the limitations of not being Omniscient. Think of what a struggle that would be. When the woman grabbed the hem of his garment to be healed. “Who touched me?” he asked. I think that is why God is so patient and forgiving of us. He knows how little we can see of the ripple effects of our choices on our lives and those around us. Ignorance is bliss. When Jesus prayed in the Garden, “If this cup can pass from me…” He knew God knew the permutations and the outcomes, and knew that if there was any other way to do it God would want that.

But no. What is is what is meant to be. That is not fatalism. Because we do know the outcomes, nor the implications, it is all a surprise to us. So we pray. We hope. We live our lives as best we can, trapped in the flow and sequence. We can only look back, and in so doing we see a narrative. What would we do if we could see the whole picture at once? Charles Joseph Minard made one of the greatest visualizations of time, information and geography in his famous map/story of Napoleon’s March to Russia in 1812. It is the God’s eye view, of the story in time and space.

NAPOLEAN’S MARCH by Charles Joseph Minard (1869) (See below)

What if we could see our story like this? What would you do? What would you dare do? This is how God sees all of time and all of creation. He was there at the Alpha, and will be there at the Omega welcoming us home.

Image result for napoleon's march

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Blessings, Rock