Thursday of Epiphany 7 – I Corinthians 15:21-26, 30-42

21 For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. 22 For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. 23 But each in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ. 24 Then comes the end, when he delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and power. 25 For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. 26 The last enemy to be destroyed is death…

30 Why are we in danger every hour? 31 I protest, brothers, by my pride in you, which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord, I die every day! 32 What do I gain if, humanly speaking, I fought with beasts at Ephesus? If the dead are not raised, “Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die.” 33 Do not be deceived: “Bad company ruins good morals.” 34 Wake up from your drunken stupor, as is right, and do not go on sinning. For some have no knowledge of God. I say this to your shame.

35 But someone will ask, “How are the dead raised? With what kind of body do they come?” 36 You foolish person! What you sow does not come to life unless it dies. 37 And what you sow is not the body that is to be, but a bare kernel, perhaps of wheat or of some other grain. 38 But God gives it a body as he has chosen, and to each kind of seed its own body. 39 For not all flesh is the same, but there is one kind for humans, another for animals, another for birds, and another for fish. 40 There are heavenly bodies and earthly bodies, but the glory of the heavenly is of one kind, and the glory of the earthly is of another. 41 There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars; for star differs from star in glory.

42 So is it with the resurrection of the dead. What is sown is perishable; what is raised is imperishable.

“Pastor, will there be dogs in heaven?”  You might be surprised at how often that question in one form or another gets posed to someone who holds this office. I remember one elderly shut-in who asked me this after her dog died. He had been a particularly salty little thing who regularly had to be restrained when I came to visit and bring her the Lord’s Supper. I said, “Yes, there will be dogs in heaven, but I am not so sure your dog will be in heaven.”

She laughed. We had that sort of relationship. She has since died and is in a much better position to answer the question than I am now. God has promised us eternal life and then said very little about it. It surely will not be the bloodless floating about on clouds with harp and halo which is depicted in popular culture. But just what will it be? Paul says simply that it will be better and very different. Like a kernel of grain is planted, our bodies are planted in the ground. What comes up is very different than the thing we have planted. What is sown mortal and subject to decay, will be raised immortal and imperishable, holding a wholly other glory than what we know now.

There is a part of me that wants answers to the questions which this raises for me. What will I do there? What will it be like? How can a person not die? How does this work for an eternity? But my understanding is too limited now to fully hear the answers to my questions. God has therefore told me to wait and to trust. I know that I shall rise. Death has no hold over me. Jesus, risen from the dead, is my pledge and guarantee. Death’s power is broken and what comes next is good, very good.

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