Handed On To You

Sunday, May 24, 2020
Pastor Mark Aune

1 Corinthians 15:1-4, 51-58

Dear friends in Christ, grace and peace. Amen

I read this on Tuesday in the Pioneer Press.

“Minnesota officials have finalized the purchase of a warehouse to be used as a temporary morgue if deaths from COVID-19 spike to a point that overwhelms traditional burial services.

The former Bix Produce warehouse in St. Paul will be used to store bodies if necessary. The state paid $5.4 million for the 71,000 square-foot facility built in 1997 that sits on about 5 acres of land in the Arlington Business park.[1]

I was kind of shocked to read about this. It was like a reality check that your mind doesn’t really want to absorb when you hear the reason for the purchase.

Why would the state make this kind of purchase? Do they really think it will be needed?

I guess this is what we call pandemic preparedness. A phrase we’ve heard a lot since the middle of March.

Do you pay attention to the death count from covid every day?

Do you find yourself comparing the numbers in MN with other states? Like a competition no one wants to win.

This is the world we live in now. What we are going through has been described in every possible manner and most of the time I find words to be inadequate to say what life has been like since March 13th. That was a Friday by the way.

It was like a Good Friday and honestly, it feels a little like every day since March 13th has been a Good Friday, the day we remember and commemorate the death of Jesus on the cross.

We live in a world where the daily reminder of change and loss is more real to us than ever before. We feel it. We see it. We experience it.

This is the world into which we hear Paul’s letter today. 1 Corinthians 15 might be one of the most important chapters in the bible. The letter was written 20 to 25 years after the death and resurrection of Jesus. Most of the first followers of Jesus, the eyewitnesses, were still alive.

The opening verses in chapter 15 are a powerful reminder to the Corinthians, with all their troubles, as well as to us, of what is of most importance. At the end of this long and important letter in the New Testament, Paul takes us back to the basics.

Now I would remind you, brothers and sisters, of the good news that I proclaimed to you, which you in turn received, in which also you stand, through which also you are being saved,

Into a conflicted and challenging time for the church in Corinth and for the church now. Paul reminds us all of what is most important.

This good new has been proclaimed to you.

This good news you have received.

This good news in which you stand and through which you are being saved.

When life is challenging and when questions abound it is best that we go back to the basics.

When so much has changed and things continue to change let me remind you all of this good news that has been proclaimed to you, that you received and in which you stand.

Paul’s words have the familiarity of a creed, a statement of belief, something so foundational to our very existence that we can stand on it in any and all circumstances and never fall.

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,

I love this image – for I handed on to you as of first importance what I in turn received.

 It captures the humanity of our proclamation.

The need for person to person contact.

This is what we are all missing so desperately right now. Yet we know it is Jesus that binds us together into a body of people sent out into the world as light and hope and grace.

This good news is not something we selfishly hold on to but rather we hand it on to others. What you have received you pass on to the next person and when we hand it on to someone else, the resurrection is at work.

When we hand this good news on to someone else, the light is singing, yes I said singing in the darkness and the sound of the proclamation of Jesus, crucified and raised from the dead becomes once more our salvation and our power over death.

This is what you have received.

This is what you are standing in right now.

This chorus of hope and good news comes to a crescendo at the end of the chapter.

Listen, I will tell you a mystery! We will not all die, but we will all be changed, 52 in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed.

The trumpet sounds today. It sounds for you and for me and it announces that we will be changed.

They mystery of the resurrection is anchored in the person of Jesus and it has been handed on to you and to me and to the church.

This trumpet sound proclaims victory over death.

Death of every kind.

Death in every moment.

 “Where, O death, is your victory?  Where, O death, is your sting?”

These are questions with an answer.

But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

We are anchored in this good news. It is a firm foundation.

So, we march on. We march on together. We march on in faith. Even as death surrounds us, we march on in the mystery that we will be changed, in any moment, at the twinkling of an eye.

Today, the last Sunday in the season of Easter we remember the good news that has been handed on to us.

Today, the first day in 11 weeks since we have gathered together in worship, we hear once again and anew the sound of the trumpet knowing that even in the face of death, new life in Christ and the power of the resurrection is still at work.

Because death no longer has any sting.

Death is being swallowed up in victory.

  • For this hope.
  • This promise.
  • This mystery, we say thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen

[1]  CHRISTOPHER MAGAN | cmagan@pioneerpress.com | Pioneer Press

PUBLISHED: May 19, 2020 at 5:41 p.m. | UPDATED: May 19, 2020 at 5:41 p.m.

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