Alive in the Resurrection

This is a word of encouragement that I delivered at the memorial service for John Maurer, held in-person on Sunday, 8/29/21, at Berkeley Friends Church. The scripture reading for this message was: Luke 20:37-38.

The resurrection is a mystery. We don’t really know what it means. We don’t understand it. Too often, as religious people, we pretend that we do. We act as if we had answers about what happens to a person after death. Stories to tell children to ease their fear. Stories to tell adults to ease their pain.

But the truth is, we don’t know the details. We can’t understand them yet, because the great day of the Lord is still coming. The fulfillment of God’s dream for the cosmos is still on its way. The consummation of the resurrection is hinted at, but not quite here.

It’s in Jesus that we have our best glimpse into what resurrection means. What it meant for him, it will soon mean for us. We know that Jesus suffered death, just like each one of us will. We also know that after three days in the grave, God raised Jesus from the dead. God restored him, gave him a new body that will never die. And that body has become the source of life and resurrection for the whole creation, for all of us who trust in him.

What does this mean? What will this resurrection look like? What will it be like for us to become like Jesus, sharing the fullness of his victory over the grave?

We don’t know. It’s a mystery. It’s something we can’t even imagine right now. But Jesus points us to this mystery. And he lets us know that the resurrection is nothing new. The resurrection is an expression of who God is from the beginning. Jesus tells us that our God is the God of the living; Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Moses are all alive in him. To God, they are all alive.

To God, our friend John Maurer is alive. He partakes in the body of Christ, the life of the resurrection.

What does that mean? I don’t know. But God knows, and in Jesus this life is being revealed to us.

The apostle Paul writes that, “now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then we will see face to face. Now I know only in part; then I will know fully, even as I have been fully known. And now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love.”

We’re gathered together today in this love. Love for our friend, John Maurer. Love for one another. The love that we have discovered together in the resurrected Jesus, who is the firstborn from the dead. The firstborn of many brothers. Brothers like John.

In this love, we find strength to wait patiently for the revealing of God’s transformation of all things. In faith, we imagine what it means that, to God, John Maurer is alive. And in hope, we seek to become more like Jesus, so that we can be alive to God in the same way.