O Lord, open our lips
and our mouth shall proclaim your praise.
you long for the world’s salvation:
stir us from apathy,
restrain us from excess
and revive in us new hope
that all creation will one day be healed
in Jesus Christ our Lord.
If the Lord himself had not been on our side,
now may Israel say;
If the Lord had not been on our side,
when enemies rose up against us;
Then would they have swallowed us alive
when their anger burned against us;
Then would the waters have overwhelmed us
and the torrent gone over our soul;
over our soul would have swept the raging waters.
But blessed be the Lord
who has not given us over to be a prey for their teeth.
Our soul has escaped
as a bird from the snare of the fowler;
the snare is broken and we are delivered.
Our help is in the name of the Lord,
who has made heaven and earth.
Glory to the Father and to the Son
and to the Holy Spirit;
as it was in the beginning, is now
and shall be for ever. Amen.
Some Sadducees, those who say there is no resurrection, came to Jesus and asked him a question, ‘Teacher, Moses wrote for us that if a man’s brother dies, leaving a wife but no children, the man shall marry the widow and raise up children for his brother. Now there were seven brothers; the first married, and died childless; then the second and the third married her, and so in the same way all seven died childless. Finally the woman also died. In the resurrection, therefore, whose wife will the woman be? For the seven had married her.’
Jesus said to them, ‘Those who belong to this age marry and are given in marriage; but those who are considered worthy of a place in that age and in the resurrection from the dead neither marry nor are given in marriage. Indeed they cannot die any more, because they are like angels and are children of God, being children of the resurrection. And the fact that the dead are raised Moses himself showed, in the story about the bush, where he speaks of the Lord as the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. Now he is God not of the dead, but of the living; for to him all of them are alive.’ Then some of the scribes answered, ‘Teacher, you have spoken well.’ For they no longer dared to ask him another question.
Jesus’ words in today’s reading demand that we set aside our ‘human wisdom’ and embrace the ‘divine wisdom’ that far exceeds our wildest imaginings.
Jesus speaks of the great figures of Jewish history: Moses, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. These figures were, of course, long dead in human terms, but very much alive in God’s nearer presence. Very much alive in a very different reality from that which we believe we fully understand.
At the beginning of our reading, some Sadducees, those who say there is no resurrection attempt to trick Jesus into saying something that will contradict Jewish law and undermine his own teaching. They try to use ‘human wisdom’, ‘human logic’, to create an unanswerable scenario. But, they fail. That which they concoct as a trap for Jesus is flawed because it tries to impose ‘human wisdom’ on that which is far beyond our understanding.
Time and again we find ourselves confronted with similar arguments and observations. Those who are rooted in the secular bombard us with their attempts to belittle our faith. But … we are called to stand firm, just as Jesus stood firm. We are called to be firm in the truth which we know to be consistent with the teachings of Jesus, even when that truth seems to defy ‘human wisdom’ and ‘human logic’.
We should not be surprised by Jesus’ response to the Sadducees. They did not believe in the resurrection, but Jesus knew exactly what lay ahead. Jesus knew that he would not only conquer death, but that he would bring the reality of the resurrection into the lives (the eternal lives) of all who remained steadfast in the faith.
Let us pray that we might never forget that Jesus defied all ‘human wisdom’. Let us pray that we might never doubt God’s ability to cross all of the boundaries we set for ourselves. Let us pray that, no matter how strong those arguments may seem to be, they are rooted in that which is ‘human’, and they could not be further from the reality of God’s love for each and every one of us … today and every day … until the very end of time, and beyond.
Prayers of intercession
Let us pray to God, the giver of all life in this world and in the world to come.
Strengthen your Church to hold fast to the traditions which she has received. Knowing that we are justified in Christ alone, may we remain faithful until his coming again.
Give freedom to those in this world who are constrained by false legalism that holds them back from fullness of life. Bring to all nations the understanding that your ways are not ours and that your love is unbounded.
Grant to us, our families and friends, the grace of good deeds offered not for our own merit but for love of you and of our neighbours. Make us faithful witnesses in our community.
Have mercy on the childless couples who earnestly desire children. Comfort widows and widowers and all who are bereaved.
Grant that the departed may indeed be children of the resurrection, raised to their new life by you, the God of the living. Fulfil in them the good hope that sustained them in this world.
That we may come to Christ with wisdom and understanding, we offer our prayers in his name.
Prayer for the week
God of righteousness, God of peace,
forgive the selfishness, greed and arrogance
that cause us to be at enmity one with another.
Help us and all people to live together
in Christian love and goodwill;
and teach the nations of the world
the things that belong to their peace;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.
The Lord’s Prayer
Our Father, who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy name;
thy kingdom come;
thy will be done;
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation;
but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom,
the power and the glory,
for ever and ever.
The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ,
and the love of God,
and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit,
be with us all evermore. Amen.