For a moment or two, I had the disturbing feeling that I’d been forced to time-travel – transported against my will to “caveman days.”
A bit overwrought perhaps. But honestly, how would you feel if – upon checking-in to your otherwise luxurious suite – you were told you’d have to do without power or water for nearly half the next day?
It’s not exactly the sort of start we envisioned for our little autumn get-away. Indeed: Instead of relaxing, I quickly found myself strategizing. How exactly are we going to cope with a day that begins utterly bereft of the creature-comforts we’ve come to take for granted?
Step One, I concluded, would be to forgo the whole “sleeping in” thing I’d been anticipating. Instead, I’d need to get up early…take a quick shower…go grab some ice…get the coffee going…and rustle up some breakfast for my Sweetie and me – all before this dreaded Armageddon descended on our lovely lodge in the Ozarks.
In retrospect, it certainly helped that we had at least a little advance notice of the impending outages. We learned the “new” rules, and adjusted our routines accordingly. But all that occurred not without a fair amount of angst and fretfulness. I’d much prefer that things would have gone according to my initial plans.
But here’s the thing: I’m not entirely certain this is a healthy instinct on my part.
Plans are quite useful, to be sure. Expectations can guide us toward desired accomplishments, toward progress. On the other hand, when my day goes pear-shaped, it can lead to unexpected delights. Such was the case during our brief “caveman” interlude this past week. It led us out-of-doors earlier than we might otherwise have managed – where we then enjoyed a subtle, spectacular sort of scenic beauty…trees and springs and bluffs bathed in early-morning autumn light.
I wonder if this is the sort of thing Jesus is trying to show us when he faces off with the Sadducees in this week’s gospel passage. The Sadducees are nothing if not practical. They find the whole notion of an afterlife preposterous, and they use the rules they knew – Mosaic Law – to prove their point.
“Teacher, Moses wrote for us, If someone’s brother dies leaving a wife but no child, his brother must take the wife and raise up descendants for his brother.
Now there were seven brothers; the first married a woman but died childless. Then the second and the third married her, and likewise all the seven died childless. Finally the woman also died. Now at the resurrection whose wife will that woman be? For all seven had been married to her.”
And how does Jesus answer? By asking them to think outside the box a bit. By encouraging them to consider the possibility that their logical, well-ordered worldview does not necessarily contain the whole of reality.
“The children of this age marry and remarry; but those who are deemed worthy to attain to the coming age and to the resurrection of the dead neither marry nor are given in marriage. They can no longer die, for they are like angels; and they are the children of God because they are the ones who will rise.”
This is a disruptive idea Jesus offers us – when he gives notice that we are not simply “children of this age,” but also (and more importantly) “children of God.” He invites us to count ourselves among “the ones who will rise.” And the price of admission? Perhaps it’s simply embracing the notion that the Holy One might have a different idea in mind for my day – a plan, beyond my plans, that can lead to eternal life.
Let us pause now…to recall that we are in the presence of the Holy & Merciful One.