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Joy to the World

by on December 10, 2013

…in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. For the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality.

1 Corinthians 15:52-53

This is a great passage for us to reflect on as we celebrate Advent this month. While we typically associate Advent with the time of anticipation before Christmas, Advent also is meant to lead us into anticipation for Christ’s Second Coming. Even some of the songs we sing point toward this future hope. Pay attention the next time we sing “Joy to the World” (spoiler alert: we’re singing it this Sunday). It’s not about Christmas at all! 

Also, our verses this week pick up mid-thought – actually mid-sentence, so take a minute to open your bible, and read the whole paragraph (or all of chapter 15, if you have time). Paul is speaking of the resurrection. He says that those who have died in Christ will experience the same resurrection that Christ experienced, the will be given new, eternal bodies. They will not become angels, as many popular depictions lead us to believe, but they will have new physical bodies. However, like Christ’s resurrection body, it will both similar and yet different from our current bodies, but most importantly it will be “imperishable.” Paul says that all those things that can be destroyed will be done away with, and only that which is lasting will remain. Death will be “swallowed up in victory.”

Our specific verses say that this transformation will happen both for those who have died, but also for those who remain living at Christ’s return. Paul expected this to happen in his lifetime, and every generation of Christians has continued to expect it in theirs. At this time of year, we specifically pause and long for the time when the deathly parts of our world will be swallowed up in Christ’s victory – when their sting is fully removed, with Christ’s resurrection as the seed of promise for our own resurrection.

Finally, Paul urges, “Let nothing move you.” With the assurance of God’s hand bringing forth our future hope, whether in our lifetime or that of a future generation, let us get on with the work before us, carrying the message of God’s incarnational love to our world!

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