Opinions expressed here are my own and do not represent the views of the congregation I joyfully serve. But my congregation loves me!

Monday, October 20, 2008

According to the Scriptures

My sermon on Sunday was based on I Corinthians 15. I read the whole of it, took the offering, then preached. Tip to preachers: you get more dough if you pass the plate before preaching. The sermon, frankly, was pretty lame. My congregation still loves me when I throw a wild pitch on occasion and invites me back.

I disagreed with Paul when he wrote:

If for this life only we have hoped in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied.
Perhaps you can help me with this. Maybe Paul is saying something different than what I think he is saying. But if I understand him correctly, our value, meaning, and hope is in the afterlife or in some other existence outside of our current existence. If that is what he means, I am 100% in disagreement. I told my folks that, then read this thing I posted a couple of weeks ago: An Earthling's Creed. To me resurrection is about the quality of life and our approach to life before the grave. It is about this existence. I like to read Paul as saying what I think, but I don't know if I am correct. One thing I didn't talk about and I meant to was this interesting statement:
For I handed on to you as of first importance what I in turn had received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the scriptures, and that he was buried, and that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve.
I noticed that this was odd. If Paul wanted evidence that the historical Jesus rose from the dead, you would think he would say "in accordance with these dudes who saw him wandering about" or something to that effect. But, instead, he says "according to the scriptures." What are these scriptures? My guess is that many people when they read or hear this think that "the scriptures" refers to the empty tomb narratives of the gospel writers.

But that can't be. Paul is writing before they wrote. Those aren't scriptures for Paul. Paul means the Hebrew scriptures. The "scriptures" probably has to do with the poetry of Hosea 6:

‘Come, let us return to the Lord;
for it is he who has torn, and he will heal us;
he has struck down, and he will bind us up.
After two days he will revive us;
on the third day he will raise us up,
that we may live before him.
Let us know, let us press on to know the Lord;
his appearing is as sure as the dawn;
he will come to us like the showers,
like the spring rains that water the earth.’
Paul is not talking about the historical Jesus being raised after three days. Paul isn't using Hosea as if Hosea is predicting some historical event. Paul is speaking in the tradition of Hosea and is speaking metaphorically about this great hope of life and healing which the third day symbolizes. It is like Jonah in the fish's tummy. Jonah gets barfed up on the third day. Paul claims to have experienced this third day reality "in Christ." It is about forgiveness, new hope, a fresh start, and participation in a community of equals with love as its highest value--among other things.

Oh well, back in the pulpit next week. Maybe I will do better.
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