Otherwise, what will those people do who receive baptism on behalf of the dead? If the dead are not raised at all, why are people baptized on their behalf? And why are we putting ourselves in danger every hour? I die every day! That is as certain, brothers and sisters, as my boasting of you—a boast that I make in Christ Jesus our Lord. If with merely human hopes I fought with wild animals at Ephesus, what would I have gained by it? If the dead are not raised, “Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die.” Do not be deceived: “Bad company ruins good morals.” Come to a sober and right mind, and sin no more; for some people have no knowledge of God. I say this to your shame. 1 Corinthians 15:29-34
Emma’s surgery was completely successful. The cancer is gone. The tumor is gone. The after effects will fade. She comes home later today. We couldn’t have asked for a better outcome. In fact, we got exactly the outcome we were praying for.
Yesterday was an emotional day. It began with a sense of quiet confidence that all would be well. The closer the clock drew to noon, the more anxious I was feeling. There was elation and gratitude when the doctor let us know that all was well. But, not long after that, I began to feel survivor’s guilt.
I was just a bystander in all of this, just one in a crowd of bystanders. I went home last night with good news and a bright future. Others went home without loved ones. Still others are still living on that razor’s edge of hope and determination. This is the drama that is played out every single day of the year, every single year, in every single community of people.
So it was that Paul wrestled with the Corinthians and the impact of the resurrection. Paul, consumed by hope yet dogged by doubts, certainly the doubts of others, perhaps his own nagging doubts, wondering if it was all worth it.
Of course it was! That is what kept him in the fight. Day and day, Paul understood his life as a daily dying in Christ and being raised to new life as a messenger and sign of the life to come. For this is the drama beneath, behind, below, and above the daily drama of our life. This is God’s story being written in daily life, penned by our thoughts, words, deeds, and hopes.
Emma had a bunch of friends show up at the hospital. They waited for hours to see her. They decorated her room before she arrived. They kicked out the adults, closed the doors, and probably sat around texting each other. They are Emma’s community. They are her “good company”. Emma’s Dad received word from his Unitarian friend that he would be “thinking good thoughts for Emma.” Church members and Facebook friends offered prayers on her behalf. We all received good news. Today, Emma will be back at home.
But others will still be fighting the good fight, wondering how it will turn out, wondering if it is worth it.
I believe it is.
Let us pray: Dear Lord, caught up as we are in the mundane and the mysterious, again and again we can do little but fall back into your arms. Hold us there until we are ready and then thrust us back into the game, encouraged and empowered to do what we can to make real the promise of the life to come. Thank you for your presence through those all around us. In Jesus’ name. Amen.