2011 Advent Devotion- Monday, December 5

Monday, December 5                        
Matthew 22:23-33

As a child in Sunday school learning biblical characters, I was taught, “The Sadducees didn’t believe in the resurrection, so they were sad, you see.” This might have been a good memory tool, but it was not accurate. The Sadducees seem anything but sad here as they grill Jesus on his theology—in fact, as they set their trap, they seem absolutely gleeful! How impressive is the young, uneducated Jesus who stands up to the religious elites, flatly telling them, “You are wrong.”

They had gotten it all wrong—the Scriptures, their knowledge of God, and their priorities. Jesus reels in the focus on social relations in heaven and reminds them that God is not God of the dead, but of the living. But to illustrate the point, why would Jesus refer to the ancestors as all being long dead?

This God of the living, Jesus is saying, works through us here on earth—not just during our lifetimes, but also across generations. Dietrich Bonhoeffer, in his Ethics (written while in prison for resisting Hitler), wrote that all our moral decisions have to be grounded in our covenant with generations to come. Today we are faced with many challenges: environmental issues, poverty, limited public resources for education, housing, public safety and health care. God calls us into engagement with these struggles of the living—those living today and especially future generations.

Living God, we thank you that you are a God of the living! Help us to expand our vision as peacemakers to draw meaning and strength from our ancestors and to work for justice that spans the generations. Amen.

Rev. Dr. Katie Day, professor, Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

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