Lord’s Day 22 (Q/A 57 & 58): IN THE NOW AND WHAT WILL BE

57   Q.   How does “the resurrection of the body
               comfort you?

A.    Not only will my soul
be taken immediately after this life
to Christ its head,^1
but also my very flesh will be
raised by the power of Christ,
reunited with my soul,
and made like Christ’s glorious body.^2

^1Luke 23:43; Phil. 1:23
^2 1 Cor. 15:53-54; Job 19:25-26; 1 John 3:2; Phil. 3:21

58   Q.   How does the article
                concerning “life everlasting”
                comfort you?

A.    Even as I already now
experience in my heart
the beginning of eternal joy,^1
so after this life I will have
perfect blessedness such as
no eye has seen,
no ear has heard,
no human heart has ever imagined:^2
a blessedness in which to praise God forever.^3

^1 2 Cor. 5:2-3
^2 1 Cor. 2:9
^3 John 17

LORD’S DAY 22 (Q/A 57 & 58)
“In the Now and What Will Be”

In the aftermath of super typhoon Haiyan which brought devastation to my parent land of the Philippines, the following song/poem was written by our PC(USA) mission co-worker Rebecca Lawson, who serves with our ecumenical partner, the United Church of Christ in the Philippines (UCCP):

A Song of Lament and Unending Hope 

“People dying, children crying—where have all the flowers gone?

Somehow we must carry on, while our souls have stopped to mourn.

We must rise up, lift our eyes up—we must not stay here too long.

Our resolve will keep us strong, our struggle is reborn.

Poor ones in a world of pain, rich ones set on selfish gain– how can our HOPE remain UNSHAKEN BY THE STORM?

Give us courage, grant us wisdom… use our hands to help and heal.

Through our acts Your LOVE revealed to people bruised and torn.

Comfort send us, caring mend us—raise Your children from despair Bound as people called to share, our struggle is reborn!”

Bishop Reuel Marigza, UCCP General Secretary, commented:

I feel that this tragedy must not deter us from our calling as Christians, whose commitment to serve is inspired by the giver of life himself, Jesus Christ. These are trying days and challenging times as well. Let us not falter nor shirk from that calling to serve, for this means also serving God, the greatest giver of all.”

In the midst of and in the aftermath of what is being designated as the strongest storm in recorded history (3.5 times stronger than Hurricane Katrina), our sisters and brothers in the Philippines face tragedy with hope, a resilience powered by faith.

Q/A 57 and 58 are far from being escapist or indifferent towards the physical world, nor an apathy towards the deep and real struggles of humanity. Because the Lord Jesus Christ is the eternal God-man, because He has risen and is ascended, the salvation which He alone has effected is complete and comprehensive. Truly, in the words of Romans 8:38-39, there is no one and nothing that can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus. Thus, Q/A 57 and 58 see in the benefits of the “resurrection of the body” and “life everlasting” as present realities, not distant, far-flung dreams. This is not an invitation to sit and day-dream about what paradise is or will be. Rather, the benefits of the resurrection and the life everlasting are present here and now because Jesus Christ, the Resurrected One, the One who is from everlasting to everlasting, is present with us by our union with Him through and in the Holy Spirit.

This brings comfort, and, with that, confidence, to live fully with joy in the sight of God.

My dear friend, the late Tom Gillespie, who served faithfully as the fifth president of Princeton Theological Seminary from 1983-2004, shared the following story at the commencement exercises of the Class of 2000:

Former British prime minister, William Gladstone, encountered the young son of one of his friends. The young man wanted the Prime Minister’s advice on his future career plans.

“First,” he explained, “I plan to complete my studies at Oxford.”

“Splendid,” replied the Prime Minister, “and what then?”

“Well, sir, I then plan to study the law and become a prominent barrister/lawyer.”

“Excellent,” responded Gladstone, “and what then?”

“Then I plan to stand for election and become a member of Parliament.”

“Wonderful,” said Gladstone, “and what then?”

“Then, sir, I plan to rise to prominence in the party and be appointed to a cabinet post.”

“A worthy ambition,” replied the senior statesman, “and what then?”

“O, Mr. Gladstone,” the boy blurted out a bit self-consciously, “I plan one day to become Prime Minister and serve my Queen with the same distinction as you.”

“A noble desire, young man, and what then?”

“Well, sir, I expect that in time I will be forced to retire from public life.”

“You will indeed,” replied the Prime Minister, “and what then?”

Puzzled by the question, the young man said hesitantly, “I expect then that one day I will die.”

“Yes you will, and what then?”

“I don’t know, sir, I have not thought any further than that.”

“Young man,” said Gladstone, “you are a fool. Go home and think of your life through from its end.”

Q/A 57 and 58 are invitations to live our lives through from its end. Resurrection and everlasting are in the now and what will be.  That’s what enables us to both struggle with tragedy and to struggle with hope’s promise, power and possibilities.