No, it's not simply the outrageous story of the Sadducees asking their ridiculous question about the Resurrection. I mean, did you hear them?
"Teacher, Moses wrote for us that if a man's brother dies, leaving a wife but no children, the man shall marry the widow and raise up children for his brother. Now there were seven brothers; the first married, and died childless; then the second and the third married her, and so in the same way all seven died childless. Finally the woman also died. In the resurrection, therefore, whose wife will the woman be? For the seven had married her."Pretty silly, right? I mean, can you just see Jesus rolling his eyes?
While that's a funny image, it's actually the memory of a sermon I once heard, several years ago, on this very text, that makes me giggle.
Believe it or not, it was at the National Cathedral in Washington, DC. They were having a 'revival', complete with jubilant Gospel Music and a fiery preacher. And, fiery he was. It was, in fact, none other than Jeremiah Wright.
Yup. That Jeremiah Wright. From Chicago. The former pastor to President and Mrs. Barack Obama.
Oh, THAT Jeremiah Wright.
Well! Let me tell you what! I was NOT prepared for that sermon.
Jeremiah got up into the pulpit, and, after a few opening comments, started right in on the text.
"This is the first time the Sadducees have met up with Jesus. The first time they have been able to get up close and ask him a question. "Well, I'm here to tell you that the church fell OUT. I mean, people were laughing so hard, they couldn't hardly catch their breath. Remember - this was happening in an Episcopal church. Strike that - an Episcopal Cathedral. No, strike that: THE National Episcopal Cathedral.
"Now tell me, church, we're on what? Chapter what? Chapter 20? Chapter 20. Alright now, it has taken twenty chapters of Luke's Gospel before the Sadduceess finally got 'round to talking to this Jesus."
"It's not like Jesus was just hangin' round, doin' nothin'. I mean, wasn't it way back in Chapter 4 of Luke's gospel that he went to the Synagogue in Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and preached his very first sermon? Wasn't it Chapter 4? And, didn't the people get enraged at what he said and kicked him out? And, not one of the Sadducees asked him a question? What's up with that?"
"And, wasn't he always healing people? Miraculous healing? Like healing leapers (Chapter 5), and the centurion's son (Chapter 7), and healed the Gerasene demoniac (Chapter 8) and on and on and on and here we are in Chapter 20 (!!) - Chapter 20 (!!!) and the Sadducees finally come 'round to ask Jesus a question. Hm-hm. Imagine that!"
"And, what do they ask him about, when they finally get 'round to asking a great preacher and a prophet? Some silly hypothetical question about 'well, if this woman's husband dies, and her brother marries her and he dies and . . ."
"If you look behind the question, you'll see the real question they were asking. They're like silly boys in the sixth grade, hemming and hawing and not getting to the point and making themselves look ridiculous."
"What these boys want to know about the Resurrection is - what concerns them most about eternal life is - this: When I die, who's gonna be first in line for booty call?"
Yes, it was a 'revival'. Yes, there were lots of African-Americans in the pews. But they were Episcopalians! God's 'frozen chosen' come in all different flavors. The shock value alone of hearing something like the words "booty call" in church was something they hadn't experienced in a many long year of church-going in the Episcopal Church. If ever.
Once the laughter subdued and Pastor Wright was able to get a word in edgewise, he got to his point:
"And, ain't that always the way with the church? Ain't we more concerned about things that don't have any never-mind with God? Ain't we just so obsessed with sex? Especially in the church? Doesn't it just makes your heart sad? So, let's talk about life and death and resurrection, church."And, off he went, for another 60 minutes, preaching on the Resurrection.
"Let's talk about what Jesus meant when he said, "Indeed, they cannot die anymore, because they are like angels and are children of God being children of the resurrection." Shall we?"
It was the BEST sermon I've ever heard.
So, off I go then, to church. I hope you're going as well. We can't all hear sermons like Jeremiah Wright but we can all turn the thoughts of our hearts on Jesus and the Resurrection.
And, if the thoughts of our hearts can't stay on Jesus and the Resurrection, then maybe our minds can be entertained by the thought of 'booty call' in heaven.
Either way, God will be so glad to see you in church!