"Since we are God’s offspring, we ought not to think that the deity is like gold, or silver, or stone, an image formed by the art and imagination of mortals. While God has overlooked the times of human ignorance, now he commands all people everywhere to repent, because he has fixed a day on which he will have the world judged in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed, and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead.”
When they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some scoffed; but others said, “We will hear you again about this.” ~ Acts 17:29-32
The second readily familiar theme for Christians that pops up in this text is that of the "resurrection of the dead." As with repentance, it is paradoxically both pervasive and somehow overlooked. We in churches who confess the ancient Creeds, say in the Apostles' and Nicene Creeds that we believe in the Resurrection of the Body and the Resurrection of the Dead. Many of us say it weekly. But I know from experience that many people either say it in a state of confusion or in some cases disbelief. Because we seldom discuss what it means. Nadia Bolz-Weber once wrote something that I think is enormously helpful for those who find themselves stuck. She said that at those moments when you struggle with believing the Creed, that those worshipping around you are believing for you. She said don't wait until you believe to come to church and praise and celebrate God's activity. Let God's faithfulness and the belief of those around you lift you up. I'm not going to lie. It's hard to understand or even believe in the Resurrection of the Dead or the body. I could give you lots of reasons why I believe in it. I could tell you how the fact that the Word became Flesh means that the body - and not just spirit or soul - is important to our Creator. I could tell you that ideas of flesh being bad and spirit being good come from Plato, not from our Judeo-Christian tradition. I could tell you that even science is convincing me more and more of my belief through the things I'm reading about quantum mechanics. But mostly what I want to tell you if you have trouble wrapping your head around the Resurrection of the Dead is to be patient with yourself. If you aren't there yet, God's still got you. Let God's faithfulness and the belief of those around you lift you up. Keep praising. Keep worshipping. Keep hoping. Keep sharing in God's meal. Because the grace of God is bigger even than our struggles to believe.
Faithful God, help me to lean into your faithfulness. Amen