Peace – Prayer – Joy – Love
Ezekiel's Vision of the Valley of Dry Bones

Back to Life Again

  1. Morbid Readings – of skeleton armies and dead friends
    1. How about our Scripture readings this morning?
    2. Anyone surprised and didn’t know that kind of stuff was in there?
    3. Anyone want to admit in church to being a zombie movie/book fan?
    4. What do you think of today’s readings?
  2. Facing Death – The problem is that everything dies.
    It’s not the fall that gets you; it’s the sudden stop at the end.

    1. God told Adam the consequences of disobedience would be death.
      “but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat,
      for in the day that you eat of it you shall die.”
      Genesis 2:17
    2. Ever since then, humanity has pretty much had a 100% mortality rate.
      “For the wages of sin is death” Romans 6:23a
    3. Death brings suffering in many ways:
      1. Grief: separation from loved ones
      2. Fear: the timing & method of how death comes
    4. That “sudden stop at the end” isn’t all that simple or contained though.
      “The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law.” 1 Cor.15:56

      1. The source of our suffering is sin, that departure from God’s will.
      2. The power of that suffering/death; the consequences of the curse.
    5. Living with Death – It isn’t just that final death; all kinds of death.
      Well, actually it is the “Fall” that does keep getting you all through life.

      1. Was it a divine decree? Or was it maybe a divine parental warning?
        1. “…for in the day that you eat of it you shall die.” Gen.2:17
        2. or was it “… for in the day that you eat of it you shall die.”
        3. They didn’t literally “die” on “the day”, as in drop dead, right?
        4. We’re interpreting this living text that is Scripture.
  1. Consider God’s words to Adam & Eve:
    1. “I will greatly increase your pangs in childbearing;
      in pain you shall bring forth children…” Genesis 3:16
    2. “cursed is the ground because of you;
      in toil you shall eat of it all the days of your life…” Gen 3:17
    3. We often treat those words like a parent declaring a punishment;
      what if they are the words of a parent describing a consequence?
  1. Consider the life that we live; all kinds of little “death” consequences:
    1. Death of Body: disease, deformity, decay…
    2. Death of Mind: dementia, depression …
    3. Death of Happiness: discouragement, dismay, dullness …
    4. Death of Relationships: division, disconnection, disunity …
    5. Death of Prosperity: destitution, distress, denial …
    6. Death of Dignity: dishonor, indignity …
    7. Death of Hope: doubt, dread, despair …
    8. Death of Life: demise, darkness, destruction …
  1. I would propose that in this life we endure all manner of “little deaths” that are the direct consequences of our disobedience, our deviating from God’s good will and love for us.
  2. People are grieving shadows of death (consequences) all the time:
    1. Whenever we feel alone, rejected, vulnerable, hungry, or sad.
    2. Wherever we feel pain, struggle, inability, or under-resourced.
    3. However it is that we experience darkness instead of light.

 

  1. Victory over Death – Jesus’ victory over death through death.
    1. The Good News of the Gospel is Jesus’ victory over death itself!
      1. The earliest Christian concept of Salvation was Christus Victor!
      2. Concepts of Substitutionary Atonement came along much later.
      3. That Christ claims ultimate & final victory over death is Salvation!
  1. Remember last week’s “Root of Reversal” is that Christ’s obedience (even to horrific death by crucifixion) replaces Adam’s disobedience.
  2. Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and
    death came through sin, and … death exercised dominion from Adam … who is a type of the one who was to come.
    But the free gift is not like the trespass …
    And the free gift is not like the effect of the one man’s sin.
    For the judgment following one trespass brought condemnation,
    but the free gift following many trespasses brings justification.
    …death exercised dominion through that one,
    much more surely will those who receive the abundance of grace
    and the free gift of righteousness exercise dominion in life
    through the one man, Jesus Christ.Therefore just as one man’s trespass led to condemnation for all,
    so one man’s act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all

    .
    Romans 15:12-18

  3. Put more simply, & continuing from earlier: For the wages of sin is death,
    but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
    Romans 6:23

 

  1. Back to Life Again – Participating in life instead of death.
    1. That gift of life is more than just some day off in the future; it’s today!
    2. That gift of life is for every moment, every interaction & relationship
    3. Jesus didn’t just show up, die, & get resurrected.
      1. That is Salvation, but it’s a small & incomplete Salvation
      2. Salvation; the victory of life over death, is more than simply an admission ticket that we get to redeem at some future time.
    4. Jesus’ ministry brought life to the dead in all kinds of circumstances.
      1. Leppers, Lame, Blind, and Sick of All Sorts
      2. Disenfranchised, Rejected, and Unclean
      3. Even those tempted & trapped in Pride & Power
  1. He invites us into and sends us out on that same life-giving ministry!
  1. Communion – At The Table of Life; The Meal of Grace.
    1. This very table is Life & Grace for more than just the ever after, amen.
    2. When we commune together in the Eucharist,
      1. This is our Response to Jesus’ invitation to life; here and to come
      2. This is our Accepting the Invitation to be Sent Out as Life-Bearers
        1. Our own life is renewed & restored right here
        2. That life becomes a wellspring of life that we take with us
      3. Let us now celebrate not only the death and resurrection of Christ; claiming victory over death–that sudden stop at the end for each of us, but let us also celebrate and partake in the life-giving ministry of Christ;
        with grace to transform & sustain us as well as to redeem us anew!

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