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The Victory Is Ours!

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Call to Worship

Let them praise the Lord for his great love and for the wonderful things he has done for them.

For he satisfies the thirsty and fills the hungry with good things.[1]

*Praise                # 546         When We All Get to Heaven

*Invocation        (Lord’s Prayer)       God, we come today as members of your family, the family of faith, each person joined to one another and to you. Though we seek you in the world of life, we seek you now in this time of solitude. Take us not from the world but make us ready for life in the world. May our worship today prepare us to be instruments of your love.

*Gloria Patri       # 575

Our Offering to God     For all the animals of the forest are mine, and I own the cattle on a thousand hills.  11I know every bird on the mountains, and all the animals of the field are mine.  14Make thankfulness your sacrifice to God, and keep the vows you made to the Most High.  15Then call on me when you are in trouble,

and I will rescue you, and you will give me glory.”[2]          

*Doxology          #572

*Prayer of Dedication         Eternal God, may these gifts represent our inner commitment to love you above all else in the world, and to love all the people in your world—all those in every age and in every place, for whom your dear Son died.

Scripture Reading                 Luke 9:28-36 (NRSV)

The Transfiguration

28 Now about eight days after these sayings Jesus took with him Peter and John and James, and went up on the mountain to pray. 29 And while he was praying, the appearance of his face changed, and his clothes became dazzling white. 30 Suddenly they saw two men, Moses and Elijah, talking to him. 31 They appeared in glory and were speaking of his departure, which he was about to accomplish at Jerusalem. 32 Now Peter and his companions were weighed down with sleep; but since they had stayed awake, they saw his glory and the two men who stood with him. 33 Just as they were leaving him, Peter said to Jesus, “Master, it is good for us to be here; let us make three dwellings, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah”—not knowing what he said. 34 While he was saying this, a cloud came and overshadowed them; and they were terrified as they entered the cloud. 35 Then from the cloud came a voice that said, “This is my Son, my Chosen; listen to him!” 36 When the voice had spoken, Jesus was found alone. And they kept silent and in those days told no one any of the things they had seen.


*Hymn of Prayer         # 564         Now Thank We All Our God  

Pastoral Prayer 

I appeal to you, brothers and sisters, by our Lord Jesus Christ and by the love of the Spirit, to join me in earnest prayer to God on my behalf,             Romans 15:30      


Praise God for... Johnny’s gratitude for sobriety, emotional prosperity, and vocational fulfillment.


Ask God for... strength, loving endurance, patience, and compassion for Mary as she deals with her husband’s poor health.


Thank God for... the continuing improvement of Gracelynn, a young girl recovering from open heart surgery.


Healing for... Geri’s brother who had surgery this week to remove a mass.

We express today thanksgiving for the children, young people, and adults in our church and for the varieties of ways they serve you now and the possibilities that are within them for future service. We thank you for the yearnings we have to know you and your way better. Help us as a church to grow in our faith and serve you better.

Give us, as adults, youth, and children, the strength to love and serve you more faithfully. May the joy, wonder, grace, and mystery of our faith be real to us. In this time of prayer, may we be open, honest, and real. We know you see us as we really are. Thank you for loving us and accepting us, even as you know us.

Thank you, O God, for opening your loving arms to us. Teach us how to open our arms and love others who are hurting. Through Christ, who gave his life out of love for us, we pray.—William Powell Tuck

*Hymn of Praise          # 402         He Hideth My Soul       

Scripture Reading       1 Cor. 15:51–58  (NRSV)

51 Listen, I will tell you a mystery! We will not all die,m 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. 53 For this perishable body must put on imperishability, and this mortal body must put on immortality. 54 When this perishable body puts on imperishability, and this mortal body puts on immortality, then the saying that is written will be fulfilled:

“Death has been swallowed up in victory.” 55“Where, O death, is your victory?

Where, O death, is your sting?” 56 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. 58 Therefore, my beloved,n be steadfast, immovable, always excelling in the work of the Lord, because you know that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.[3]


Message                       The Victory Is Ours!

Paul confronts a radically skeptical congregation. They question his integrity. They mock his faith. They wonder if he can really call himself an apostle. And amid all this skepticism, they, of course, radically doubt Paul’s message. To put it bluntly, they assert, “Dead men don’t rise.

Dead women don’t rise—Jesus, maybe, but nobody else. We either rot in our graves, or our souls leave our bodies and go merge with the universal soul. But dead people don’t rise!”

That stance by his beloved Corinthian church threatens and infuriates Paul. He loves that congregation. He sees in their radical doubt the church’s collapse and dissolution. And he’s right. // “Dead people don’t rise?” he asks. “If that’s true, then Jesus is not raised. And if Jesus is not raised, then everything we do and stand for hinges on smoke and mirrors.”

Do you see what Paul tells us? If Christ is not raised, our faith rests on the decomposing corpse of a Galilean carpenter. If Christ is not raised we meet here every Sunday morning to simply tell lies about God; we’re trapped in a world where hostility, war, decay, and death really do have the last word, and the courage and suffering of generations to make this a better world proves a sick joke. If Christ is not raised, the death of a loved one means obliteration. If we share any hope at all, it consists of optimism, making us, as Paul says, “the most pitiable of human beings” in the face of the stark realities of life and death.

I. “But,” Paul writes (one of the so-called “great Buts” of the Christian faith), “God has raised Christ from the dead.” Did you hear that? Paul does not say, “Jesus rose.” Paul says, “God raised Jesus from the dead.” Let’s be clear. Paul does not affirm what some called the flying up to the sky out of the grave, “body, boots, and britches.” Not on your life. By asserting that “God raised Christ from the dead,” Paul affirms the power of God triumphant over all those things threatening to subvert, destroy, and deny human life, the most vivid of these life-denying, love-threatening, hope-subverting forces being death itself. Paul sees death not simply as a biological incident in Nature’s incessant course, though he recognizes that as a fact. But more. Paul sees death as a metaphor signifying the radical overthrow of God’s creation itself—a dark and oppressive blanket yielding moral chaos and futility. / Satan seemed to be victorious in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3) and at the cross of Jesus. But God turned Satan’s apparent victory into defeat when Jesus Christ rose from the dead (Colossians 2:15; Hebrews 2:14, 15). Thus, death is no longer a source of dread or fear. Christ overcame it, and one day we will also. The law will no longer make sinners out of us who cannot keep it(the law). Death has been defeated, and we have hope beyond the grave.

Through the Resurrection of Christ, death and all the other powers intent on diminishing human life fail to have the last word. God does not give up on us. God does not abandon his creation. God sets to work refashioning it. That’s our faith and our hope.

Buying into this hope of resurrection the Corinthians want to know what will happen to those people who are still alive.  Paul confirms that Christians alive at that day will not have to die but will be transformed immediately. A trumpet blast will usher in the new heaven and earth. The Jews would understand the significance of this because trumpets were always blown to signal the start of great festivals and other extraordinary events (Blow the trumpets in times of gladness, too, sounding them at your annual festivals and at the beginning of each month to rejoice over your burnt offerings and peace offerings. The trumpets will remind the Lord your God of his covenant with you. I am the Lord your God.” Numbers 10:10)

II. “OK,” say those recalcitrant Corinthians. “We’ll buy your assertions about God’s transforming / refashioning power, but if God’s power really raises the dead, in what body does God raise them? //

Has God got a bunch of resuscitated corpses on her hands?”

Some years ago Diane Keaton starred in a film titled Heaven, which included questions cut from Corinthians’ cloth. Questions like these: How old are you in heaven? Do you stay the same age as when you died, or can you just pick any age—say, twenty-three—and stay that way throughout eternity? Who will you see? Can you just walk over if you feel like it and chat with Ann Boleyn or Babe Ruth or Groucho Marx? And what if you meet your fourth-grade Sunday school teacher, and you had an easier time getting in than she did? Will she be embarrassed? Or as a hip young woman these days might ask, “What’ll I wear? Am I stuck in the same outfit I was buried in? Like the mother in the show “Providence”.  Will I ever be able to find a facsimile of that Nipon Boutique skirt-suit with portrait-collar jacket and flounced skirt in iridescent copper combo fabric that made me feel like heaven on earth every time I wore it?”

“Hold on,” Paul might have said. “You’re asking the right question, but you’re messing up the answers.” Just look around. God makes different bodies, appropriate for every place and occasion. Take the body you walk around in every day, for instance. It’s unique and appropriate for functioning right here on earth with family and friends, for love and work. Or look up into the heavens, and you see celestial bodies—the moon, sun, and stars, each appropriate for its place and function. Look at the seeds you plant in springtime and the fruit it brings forth; both of them, the seed and the fruit, bear different bodies but are appropriate

for their place in the creation.

When you sow seed, you do not expect that same seed to come up at the harvest. The seed dies, but from that death there comes life.  Jesus used this analogy in John 12:23–28. 23Jesus replied, “The hourc has come for the Son of Man to be glorified.d 24Very truly I tell you, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies,e it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. 25Those who love their life will lose it, while those who hate their life in this world will keep itf for eternal life.g 26Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be.h My Father will honor the one who serves me.

27“Now my soul is troubled,i and what shall I say? ‘Father,j save me from this hour’?k No, it was for this very reason I came to this hour. 28Father, glorify your name!”[4] John 12:23–28 ///

You may sow a few grains of wheat, but you will have many grains when the plant matures. Are they the same grains that were planted? No, but there is still continuity. You do not sow wheat and harvest barley. [5] // what comes up at the harvest is usually more beautiful than what was planted. This is especially true of tulips. Few things are as ugly as a tulip bulb, yet it produces a beautiful flower. If at the resurrection, all God did was to put us back together again, there would be no improvement. Flesh and blood cannot inherit God’s kingdom. The only way we can enjoy the glory of heaven is to have a body suited to that environment. [6]

Today, we have a “natural body,” that is, a body suited to an earthly environment. We received this body from our first parent, Adam: he was made of dust, and so are we (Gen. 2:7). But the resurrection body is suited to a spiritual environment. In His resurrection body, Jesus was able to move quickly from place to place, and even walk through locked doors; yet He was also able to eat food, and His disciples were able to touch Him and feel Him (Luke 24:33–43; John 20:19–29).

The point Paul was making was simply this: The resurrection body completes the work of redemption and gives to us the image of the Saviour. We are made in the image of God as far as personality is concerned, but in the image of Adam as far as the body is concerned. One day we shall bear the image of the Saviour when we share in His glory.[7]

The body that God raises will be you, but you will be clothed, not in your earthly body; you will be given a new body, especially designed and fitted for your new life in the Kingdom of God. We don’t know much about that Kingdom. We dare not speculate on the “temperature and the furniture of heaven.” But we do stand confident in the power of God to sustain us through life in this creation, to pitch us toward the promised new creation and, by heaven, to embrace us in love that never lets us go.

III. Now friends, I believe these radiant affirmations, grounded in the transfiguring power and tenacious love of God, make all the difference in the world. I believe, first of all, they affirm the solidarity of human life from beginning to end. Those references Paul makes to the Corinthians about Adam and Eve are his way of saying that all of us, from the beginning to the furthest stretches of eternity—all of us are connected to one another across the natural barriers of life and death, the cosmic barriers of space and time.

Solidarity with all whom we love, solidarity with all humanity from the origins of creation to our final destiny in God—that is the richness and depth of Paul’s vision and hope.

IV. Before we finish, we must insist that Paul’s radiant affirmations provide the ground for our hope as we join the task of building a gracious, just, and peaceful community on earth. Paul closes his great expression of faith in Christ’s Resurrection by saying to the Corinthians, “Therefore, my beloved, be steadfast, immovable, always excelling in the work of the Lord, because you know that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.” /// Paul says that because of the resurrection, nothing we do is useless. Sometimes we become apathetic about serving the Lord because we don’t see any results. Knowing that Christ has won the ultimate victory should affect the way we live right now. Don’t let discouragement over an apparent lack of results keep you from doing the work of the Lord enthusiastically as you have opportunity. ///

Archbishop Desmond Tutu understands the urgency of Paul’s stringent admonition. During one of his encounters with the governmental defenders of South Africa’s apartheid policies, he reminded them that tyrants end up “on the flotsam and jetsam of history,” that “the resurrection of our Lord and Savior declares for all to know that light will triumph over darkness, that goodness will triumph over evil, that justice will triumph over injustice, that freedom with triumph over tyranny. I stand before you as one who believes fervently what Paul wrote when he said, ‘If God be for us, who can be against us?’” ///

Dead people don’t rise,” said the Corinthians. “Balderdash!” says Paul. The victory is ours!—James W. Crawford

Our Scripture reading this morning referenced the last trumpet:  I’d like to share with you an email forward that I got this week:

You are in your car driving home. Thoughts wander to the game you want to see or meal you want to eat, when suddenly a sound unlike any you've ever heard fills the air. The sound is high above you. A trumpet? A choir? A choir of trumpets?

You don't know, but you want to know.

So you pull over, get out of your car, and look up. As you do, you see you aren't the only curious one. The roadside has become a parking lot. Car doors are open, and people are staring at the sky. Shoppers are racing out of the grocery store.

  The Little League baseball game across the street has come to a halt. Players and parents are searching the clouds. And what they see, and what you see, has never before been seen.

As if the sky were a curtain, the drapes of the atmosphere part. A brilliant light spills onto the earth. There are no shadows. None.

From whence came the light begins to tumble a river of color spiking crystals of every hue ever seen and a million more never seen. Riding on the flow is an endless fleet of angels. They pass through the curtains one myriad at a time, until they occupy every square inch of the sky.

North. South.  East.  West.

  Thousands of silvery wings rise and fall in unison, and over the sound of the trumpets, you can hear the cherubim and seraphim chanting, Holy, holy, holy.

The final flank of angels is followed by twenty-four silver- bearded elders and a multitude of souls who join the angels in worship.

Presently the movement stops and the trumpets are silent, leaving only the triumphant triplet: Holy, /holy, /holy. Between each word is a pause. With each word, a profound reverence. You hear your voice join in the chorus. You don't know why you say the words, but you know you must.

Suddenly, the heavens are quiet. All is quiet. ////

The angels turn, you turn, the entire world turns and there He is. Jesus.

Through waves of light you see the silhouetted figure of Christ the King.

  He is atop a great stallion, and the stallion is atop a billowing cloud.

  He opens his mouth, and you are surrounded by his declaration:   I am the Alpha and the Omega.

The angels bow their heads.

The elders remove their crowns.

And before you is a Figure so consuming that you know, instantly you know:

Nothing else matters.

Forget stock markets and school reports.

Sales meetings and football games.

Nothing is newsworthy..

All that mattered, matters no more....

for Christ has come.

*Hymn of Response   # 408         I Will Sing of My Redeemer

*Sending forth             The voice of Christ has called us apart for renewal and inspiration.  Now let us go in faithfulness and tell the story of that life in word and action.




[1]Tyndale House Publishers: Holy Bible : New Living Translation. 2nd ed. Wheaton, Ill. : Tyndale House Publishers, 2004, S. Ps 107:8

[2]Tyndale House Publishers: Holy Bible : New Living Translation. 2nd ed. Wheaton, Ill. : Tyndale House Publishers, 2004, S. Ps 50:10

m Gk fall asleep

n Gk beloved brothers

[3] The Holy Bible : New Revised Standard Version. Nashville : Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1989, S. 1 Co 15:51

c S Mt 26:18

d Jn 13:32; 17:1

e 1Co 15:36

f Mt 10:39; Mk 8:35; Lk 14:26; 17:33

g S Mt 25:46

h Jn 14:3; 17:24; 2Co 5:8; Php 1:23; 1Th 4:17

i Mt 26:38,39; Jn 11:33,38; 13:21

j S Mt 11:25

k ver 23

[4] The Holy Bible : Today's New International Version. Grand Rapids, MI : Zondervan, 2005, S. Jn 12:23

[5]Wiersbe, Warren W.: The Bible Exposition Commentary. Wheaton, Ill. : Victor Books, 1996, c1989, S. 1 Co 15:35

[6]Wiersbe, Warren W.: The Bible Exposition Commentary. Wheaton, Ill. : Victor Books, 1996, c1989, S. 1 Co 15:35

[7]Wiersbe, Warren W.: The Bible Exposition Commentary. Wheaton, Ill. : Victor Books, 1996, c1989, S. 1 Co 15:35

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