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I BELIEVE in God the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth, And in Jesus Christ his only Son our Lord; who was conceived by the Holy Ghost, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, dead, and buried; he descended into hell; the third day he rose again from the dead; he ascended into heaven, and sitteth on the right hand of God the Father Almighty; from thence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Ghost; the holy catholic Church; the communion of saints; the forgiveness of sins; the resurrection of the body; and the life everlasting. Amen.
Of course, I really don’t think that’s surprising. Good night, unless you’re having Thanksgiving dinner with a minister, (Something I’d never recommend.) it’s pretty doubtful that this kind of thing would be discussed. But you know, I think that’s kind of a shame, and I’ll tell you why. Of all the events in human history, I believe that the resurrection of Jesus Christ was and is the most important, and I’m talking about the most important to each and everyone of us here this morning. And since, as we’re going through The Apostles’ Creed, the “expression du jour” is “the third day he rose again from the dead,” we’re going to focus on why the resurrection should be one of the first things we mention on Thursday, you know, right before we eat.
But you know, it’s interesting, when we look into the New Testament, well, it’s kind of reversed. In other words, in the Bible, what happened seems to take a back seat to why it’s important. As a matter of fact, when you read the gospels we use, you know, like Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, the four gospels in the Bible, the one thing they all have in common is that not a single one actually described the resurrection at all. Trust me, there’s no mention of lasers shooting or smoke rolling or Jesus actually leaving the tomb. Of course there’s a lot of stuff about what came before, you know, like the crucifixion and the burial and even the women deciding to come to the tomb. And there’s a lot about what happened after, like the women finding the stone rolled away and talking to a man or two men or an angel sitting on the rock and leaving the tomb and either telling the disciples or telling no one, you know, depending on the gospel you’re reading. But there’s nothing about the resurrection itself. Instead it’s not described at all. It’s a mystery, not all that different than how God the Father Almighty created the heavens and the earth or how Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord, was conceived by the Holy Ghost and born of the Virgin Mary. You see, these are all mysteries. And for that reason, before they can have any meaning to us, we really need to make the decision to trust, to believe, to have faith. And that also applies to the resurrection. Unlike the crucifixion which was described in great detail, the resurrection is and always will be a matter of faith.
Still Paul offered a glimpse of what will happen after. He wrote, “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. 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.’ ‘Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?’” [I Corinthians 15:51-55] You see, this is why the resurrection is so very important. It gives us a reason to hope as we look into the future and think about ourselves and those who’ve gone before us. And it’s also a source of peace, and I’m talking about when we believe, when we trust that this time is coming: the time when we’re all going to be raised and we’re all going to put on immortality and we’re all going to say together, “Death has been swallowed up in victory.” You see, that’s what the resurrection of Jesus offers right here and now to those who make the decision to trust that it’s true.
And for that reason, maybe we should work it into our Thanksgiving celebration. I mean, as we think about the stuff for which we can be thankful, maybe we should include the resurrection near the top of the list, because even though we may never understand exactly what actually happened, we can certainly appreciate why it’s important. And that’s going to occur the minute we decide to believe that what happened to Jesus will one day also happen to us and all whom we love. In other words, because his tomb was empty, we can believe that one day ours will be too. And if that doesn’t make you feel thankful, I’m just not sure what will.