Christ is born!
No matter how long any of us live, there’s something about the changing of the calendar that invites us to look at ourselves. Benjamin Franklin once said “Be at war with your vices, at peace with your neighbors, and let every new year find you a better man.” Great quote.
And here we are at the end of one calendar year and the beginning of another. Some of us will make New Year’s resolutions, others will be deep into quarterly planning for business, and all of us will be getting our paperwork together for Tax Season! Yuck.
But regardless how we greet the change of the calendar, our lives are always filled with Endings and Beginnings. How can we do this well in our lives?
Look at our lesson today in Mark 12:18-27:
At that time, Sadducees came to Jesus, who say that there is no resurrection; and they asked him a question, saying, “Teacher, Moses wrote for us that if a man’s brother dies and leaves a wife, but leaves no child, the man must take the wife, and raise up children for his brother. There were seven brothers; the first took a wife, and when he died left no children; and the second took her, and died, leaving no children; and the third likewise; and the seven left no children. Last of all the woman also died. In the resurrection whose wife will she be? For the seven had her as wife.” Jesus said to them, “Is not this why you are wrong, that you know neither the scriptures nor the power of God? For when they rise from the dead, they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven. And as for the dead being raised, have you not read in the book of Moses, in the passage about the bush, how God said to him, ‘I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’? He is not God of the dead, but of the living; you are quite wrong.”
Our Orthodox Faith embraces the fundamental wisdom that keeping The End in mind is the only Way to live Today! And the reason for that is if we don’t know how things end, we will never know the very purpose of our lives.
In today’s passage the Sadducees were a sect of Second Temple Judaism that rejected the belief in the Resurrection of the dead. They considered only the first 5 books of Moses to be scripture and taught that the purpose of religion is to govern the here and now, and not worry about the end of things. Once you’re dead, you’re dead, they taught. And Jesus tells them “you are quite wrong.”
It turns out the only way to get Today right is to study and allow the End of all things, including your own earthly life, to give me a spot in the future to live towards. Like the North Star in the sky that led mariners home because they had a fixed star to navigate by, we too will live wise lives only when we keep Endings and Beginnings in their proper perspective.
Jesus gives us insight in just how to do that. First, our mortal lives, while temporary, are not without hope. There is going to be a Resurrection. We will not be disembodied “spirits” forever. We will get our physical bodies back at the Resurrection. We will face the reality of our mortal lives and how we lived them and what our choices screamed to the whole universe about what we truly believe! Second, our earthly relationships will be transformed by this eternal life. How we ended relationships and how we began relationships reveal our real selves to us and to all around us. And Finally, the God Who made us, made us for life, not death!
This wisdom about Resurrection, Relationships, and Real Life confronts us today with choices. Will we know ourselves well enough to recognize our vices and fight them? Will we appreciate the gift of eternal life to keep perspective about our relationships? And will we put the effort and energy into knowing our Life-Creating God so that we put Him first in our lives?
Today, we reach an end to one calendar year, and the beginning of another. This New Year is, as yet, untouched. But let’s step onto this New Year resolved to allow wisdom to govern our endings and beginnings so that we will be Orthodox on Purpose and lead others to do the same! Happy New Year!
P.S. Today is the last day to give for 2019. Please consider a gift to Faith Encouraged Ministries. Even a $5 gift means so much. Go to FaithEncouraged.org, or click here to make your 2019 gift. Thank you.