Listen, I will tell you a mystery! We will not all die, but we will all be changed, 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. For this perishable body must put on imperishability, and this mortal body must put on immortality. (1 Corinthians 15:51-52)
Dear brothers & sisters in Christ,
Grace and peace to you from God our Father and Jesus Christ the Lord and Savior. Amen.
Another calendar year is beginning. The busyness of harvest, Thanksgiving, and the holidays is winding down. Often following all the busyness of December, many people experience an adrenaline crash. After all the celebrating, vacation days, and schedule abnormalities we try to return to life ‘as usual.’ Many become introspective and focus on changes they may want to make in their lives.
Oftentimes our lives feel suddenly quiet like the wintery landscape in which we live. Winter has been associated with death across cultural boundaries. For some reason, when deciduous trees shed their leaves, crops have been harvested, animals go into hibernation, and things generally stop growing, people are reminded of death. When life slows down people think of death.
Usually from Thanksgiving to early Spring, there seems to be an increase in funeral home activity. As one person recently commented, “there are always those who don’t make it through the winter.” In generations past, winter in the north was a harsh reality one hoped to survive. That is often how we look at death – as harsh and cold.
We have also come to associate the time just after Christmas with new beginnings. Change is comparable to death and resurrection. The old passes away and the new arises. Daily life is full of deaths and resurrections. Change is an inevitable part of life on this earth. Our time here on this pilgrimage is anything but static. Daily we struggle against sin and evil. Every day God destroys all that opposes Him and raises us up in His image.
The apostle Paul is sharing a ‘mystery’ with the congregation in Corinth – we will all be changed. Death is not some harsh and cold finale, but a relocation from this pilgrimage on earth to our heavenly home. It is the mortal morphing into the immortal – the temporal converting into the eternal. The change is necessary. This transformation is part and parcel of true life in Christ. Death in Christ is a passage from life to everlasting life.
The incarnation is beginning of God’s kingdom being realized. In Christ’s birth, the eternal enters the temporal. In His death and resurrection, the temporal crosses the threshold into the eternal. Mortality takes on immortality. Jesus comes and takes us with Him into the realm of the imperishable. We are changed.
As we go through the seasons of our lives, we cling to the knowledge that Christ is doing this amazing thing. At times those seasons are as unpredictable as Minnesota weather, yet through all those seasons, God is at work – molding us, transforming us, leading and sustaining us on that journey. God is preparing us for His kingdom in heaven and here on earth. The seasons in our lives are part of the journey. The Holy Spirit is given to us to be our guide. The Spirit is our Advocate as we ebb through the turbulence of this life on earth as we journey toward our eternal home.
Just as Winter gives way to Spring, death gives way to resurrection. As turbulent as some of our ‘seasons’ can be, God remains steadfast and true – He is indeed “our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.” The grace and peace of God which surpasses all understanding keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Amen.
God is our refuge and strength,
a very present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear, though the earth should change,
though the mountains shake in the heart of the sea;
though its waters roar and foam,
though the mountains tremble with its tumult. (Psalm 46:1-3)