Questions and Answers

Posted on Nov 8, 2016 in All Posts, Sermons

Luke 20: 27-40
“Questions and Answers”
by Dr. Rev. Alex McLean

November 6, 2016
All Saints Sunday

  • The scripture today is a lot about questions and answers.Q&A
  • We all know how important it is to get the answer to our questions.
  • Two days before the election, we still have questions about the candidates that are running.
  • They are in the public square daily, but still we don’t seem to have enough information.
  • Sometimes we like one TV station over another because of the kinds of questions it asks and researches.
  • We might like the questioner in particular.
  • We tune into one program maybe nightly to see what kinds of questions he or she asks, and what kind of answers they have gotten.
  • When it comes to the election, the best answer I can muster comes from the familiar words of Abraham Lincoln in the Gettysburg Address of 1863.
  • He had a very difficult question on his hands: How to make sense of the 50,000 soldiers who lost their lives in the battle of Gettysburg?
  • You may remember his public response, known as the Gettysburg Address:
    • FOUR SCORE AND SEVEN YEARS AGO OUR FATHERS BROUGHT FORTH ON THIS CONTINENT A NEW NATION CONCEIVED INAbraham Lincoln LIBERTY AND DEDICATED TO THE PROPOSITION THAT ALL MEN ARE CREATED EQUAL. NOW WE ARE ENGAGED IN A GREAT CIVIL WAR TESTING WHETHER THAT NATION OR ANY NATION SO CONCEIVED AND SO DEDICATED CAN LONG ENDURE. WE ARE MET ON A GREAT BATTLEFIELD OF THAT WAR. WE HAVE COME TO DEDICATE A PORTION OF THAT FIELD AS A FINAL RESTING PLACE FOR THOSE WHO HERE GAVE THEIR LIVES THAT THAT NATION MIGHT LIVE. IT IS ALTOGETHER FITTING AND PROPER THAT WE SHOULD DO THIS BUT IN A LARGER SENSE WE CAN NOT DEDICATE~WE CAN NOT CONSECRATE~WE CAN NOT HALLOW~THIS GROUND. THE BRAVE MEN LIVING AND DEAD WHO STRUGGLED HERE HAVE CONSECRATED IT FAR ABOVE OUR POOR POWER TO ADD OR DETRACT. THE WORLD WILL LITTLE NOTE NOR LONG REMEMBER WHAT WE SAY HERE BUT IT CAN NEVER FORGET WHAT THEY DID HERE. IT IS FOR US THE LIVING RATHER TO BE DEDICATED HERE TO THE UNFINISHED WORK WHICH THEY WHO FOUGHT HERE HAVE THUS FAR SO NOBLY ADVANCED. IT IS RATHER FOR US TO BE HERE DEDICATED TO THE GREAT TASK REMAINING BEFORE US~THAT FROM THESE HONORED DEAD WE TAKE INCREASED DEVOTION TO THAT CAUSE FOR WHICH THEY GAVE THE LAST FULL MEASURE OF DEVOTION~THAT WE HERE HIGHLY RESOLVE THAT THESE DEAD SHALL NOT HAVE DIED IN VAIN~THAT THIS NATION UNDER GOD SHALL HAVE A NEW BIRTH OF FREEDOM~AND THAT GOVERNMENT OF THE PEOPLE BY THE PEOPLE FOR THE PEOPLE SHALL NOT PERISH FROM THE EARTH.
  • This Friday will be Veterans’ Day and we should thank those who have fought in wars to protect our freedoms.
  • On All Saints Sunday, we remember the soldiers who have died.
  • We also remember those close to us who have died.
  • There is a song in the Broadway Musical, Phantom of the Opera, “Wishing You Were Here Again”.
  • The lead actress travels to the cemetery where her father is buried, and sings about her longing that her father were alive and not dead.
  • For if he were alive, he could advise her on the big life questions that she was asking.
  • Two days before the election we may have questions about whom to vote for.
  • You could see the whole ballot as a series of questions for which you are meant to give answers.
  • When Lincoln says: “of the people, by the people, and for the people”, he is talking to us.
  • All of our individual votes matter.
  • So “We the people” have an awesome responsibility.
  • It is our right to cast a vote, and it means that we have influence over the future direction of the country.
  • We are “One Nation Under God”.
  • God has given us the freedom to vote, and it is legally enshrined in the United States Constitution.
  • But voting is only the beginning.
  • The reason is, you know, that we don’t know exactly how our candidates will perform once they get into office.
  • Once they realize and get accustomed to their office, they may find out that it is harder to get things done than they expected.
  • So we have to remain vigilant, and we need to stay in touch with our elected officials, reminding them of the policies and leadership qualities for which they were elected.
  • In today’s scripture Jesus shows leadership skills and the ability to answer tough question.
  • At this point in the Gospel, he is teaching in the Temple of Jerusalem.
  • His earthly ministry is nearly over.
  • Just two chapters after this passage, Judas will betray Jesus, and the Holy Week events will ensue.
  • He is questioned by a group known as the Sadducees.
  • They put to him this question: “Now there were seven brothers. The first one married a woman and died childless……..in the same way the seven died, leaving no children…….Now then, at the resurrection whose wife will she be, since the seven were married to her?”
  • This question may sound absurd, but an important issue was at stake.
  • It is stated in Genesis and Deuteronomy that if a man dies without issue then it is his brother’s responsibility to marry the widow in order to preserve the name of his brother by having and raising children with her.
  • The Sadducees present Jesus with a fictitious example that is so extreme it is meant to show how ridiculous the idea of resurrection is.
  • But Jesus answers the question, and silences his critics, by showing that there is a difference between heaven and earth.
  • On earth, people are given in marriage.
  • In Jesus’s day and ours, marriage is important because it is an institution in which children can be born and raised.
  • My grandfather used to say: “Marriage is a fine institution, but who wants to live in an institution!”
  • That joke notwithstanding, marriage is often a good idea here on earth.
  • Yet, in heaven, we do not marry.
  • We are given angelic bodies.
  • There is neither marriage, procreation, nor death in heaven.
  • Jesus quotes the Sadducees’ favorite part of the Bible back to them to make the point.
  • He says: “But in the account of the burning bush, even Moses showed that the dead rise, for he calls the Lord ‘the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.’[a]38 He is not the God of the dead, but of the living, for to him all are alive.”
  • This means that Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, who are all long gone, are still alive with God.
  • The Sadducees had no higher authority than Moses, and even Moses wrote that there was a resurrection by listing Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob as still alive with God.
  • This is good news for us.
  • We might sometimes feel like the Sadducees and see the grave as our final resting place.
  • There is a joke among pastors that at a funeral they don’t mind riding in the hearse as long as they are not in the back!
  • None of us likes to think about death, but we will all someday die.
  • But Jesus is there to assure that just as Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob are alive with God, even though dead in an earthly sense, so we will live on with God forever.
  • That is how he answered the Sadducees’ question, and I hope that answers our questions about life after death.
  • In the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen.