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The Sixth Sunday of Easter A, May 14, 2023

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The Sixth Sunday of Easter A, May 14, 2023

Paul is preaching to religiously knowledgeable Greeks.  He makes a connection with them by quoting Greek philosophers: “In him we live and move and have our being.”  Both Paul and his hearers are in agreement that the things fashioned by human hands—idols—are not living gods.

     But then Paul shocks his audience with a very bold claim:  the god who will have the whole world judged in righteousness has proved his intention by raising the judge from the dead.  The resurrection of the body of Jesus—and eventually the resurrection of our own bodies as we confess in the Apostles’ Creed—is always a shock to those who think the goal of religion is to do away with the things of the body.  They assume that God wants us to shed our bodies to become ‘spiritual’ beings.

     But God has given our bodies work to do– in this creation for now (Ge. 1:28) and in the new creation to come (Re. 22:3).  In this creation, for the time being, we are to tend the earth and keep it.  The duty of stewardship over the earth may be broken by our sinfulness but it remains our duty—bodily, emotionally, and spiritually.  In the new creation, before the throne of God and of the Lamb, we will worship as we have never worshiped before… bodily, emotionally, and spiritually… for our sin will no longer be a barrier to that perfect worship. Faith in Christ doesn’t mean for us to be separated from our bodies but that our entire person will be wholly new when Jesus returns on the day God has fixed.

Table Talk:  Discuss the difference between having a body and being a spirit.  Discuss the things you can do with your body and how useful the body is.

Prayer:  Heavenly Father, you have given us life as creatures with a body; preserve our bodies, open our eyes to see the useful tasks we can do with them, and open our ears to hear and to rest in your promises. Amen

Acts 17:16-31 English Standard Version

16 Now while Paul was waiting for them at Athens, his spirit was provoked within him as he saw that the city was full of idols. 17 So he reasoned in the synagogue with the Jews and the devout persons, and in the marketplace every day with those who happened to be there. 18 Some of the Epicurean and Stoic philosophers also conversed with him. And some said, “What does this babbler wish to say?” Others said, “He seems to be a preacher of foreign divinities”—because he was preaching Jesus and the resurrection. 19 And they took him and brought him to the Areopagus, saying, “May we know what this new teaching is that you are presenting? 20 For you bring some strange things to our ears. We wish to know therefore what these things mean.” 21 Now all the Athenians and the foreigners who lived there would spend their time in nothing except telling or hearing something new.

22 So Paul, standing in the midst of the Areopagus, said: “Men of Athens, I perceive that in every way you are very religious. 23 For as I passed along and observed the objects of your worship, I found also an altar with this inscription: ‘To the unknown god.’ What therefore you worship as unknown, this I proclaim to you. 24 The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man, 25 nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything. 26 And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place, 27 that they should seek God, and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him. Yet he is actually not far from each one of us, 28 for

“‘In him we live and move and have our being’;

as even some of your own poets have said,

“‘For we are indeed his offspring.’

29 Being then God’s offspring, we ought not to think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone, an image formed by the art and imagination of man. 30 The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent, 31 because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed; and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead.”