Daily Scripture: Luke 20:27-40
Reflection: The Rev. Dr. Everett C. Lees, Vicar—Christ Church, Episcopal Diocese of Oklahoma
“And no one dared to ask him any more questions.” After reading the gospel assigned for today, I get why nobody asked anymore questions: they were probably as confused as you and I as to what Jesus means.
In Jesus’ time, there were factions or denominations within Judaism. We often think of Judaism as monolithic. However, in reality, there were varied beliefs about a wide range of issues, just as we find in our church communities today. One of the key differences between the Sadducees and the Pharisees was about whether there was a day of resurrection. The late Vic Raiber, who attended St. Patrick’s in Broken Arrow where I served as curate, loved to tell this joke: “The Sadducees did not believe in the resurrection, that is why they were sad-you-see.” But the Pharisees did believe in the resurrection. The Sadducees wanted to test out this theory about the resurrection and asked a hypothetical question: If a woman has been married to different men because her husbands died, to whom will she be married in the age to come?
Jesus replies that the age to come is not like the present age. NT Wright says that resurrection is not about the life after death, but the life after the life after death. Each Sunday we proclaim in the Nicene Creed that we believe Jesus will come and judge the living and the dead. Advent is a time in which we think about this coming day of judgment. Fleming Rutledge in her recent Advent book writes:
“To understand the truly radical nature of Advent, it is necessary to get its relation to Christmas in perspective. In the medieval period, the Scripture readings for Advent were well established, and they were oriented only secondarily to the birth (first coming) of Christ; the primary emphasis was his second coming on the final day of the Lord. Because the church in modern times has turned away from the proclamation of the second coming, an intentional effort must be made to reinstate it. Related to the second coming, which Jesus repeatedly says will come by God’s decision at an hour we do not expect, is the Advent emphasis on the agency of God, as contrasted with the “works” of human beings. An exclusive emphasis on Advent as a season of preparation risks putting human endeavor in the spotlight for all four weeks of the season. All the Advent preparation in the world would not be enough unless God were favorably disposed to us in the first place.”[i]
Advent is a time in which we begin with the end in mind; the day of judgment and resurrection. But it is a day not of fear but assurance that we are loved by God. And we look for the day in which God will make all things right.
[i] Rutledge, Fleming. Advent: The Once and Future Coming of Jesus Christ (Kindle Locations 314-320). Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co..Kindle Edition.