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Life Everlasting

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I believe in
the resurrection of the body,
and the life everlasting. Amen.

Which is our resurrection body? Will you look identical to how you did when you died? Or the body you had at your peak of vitality? So if you met someone at one age, you won’t recognise them in heaven because they will look much older – or much younger…

We eat; the food is material for our cells to reproduce. Old cells die.

Each of us has about 75 trillion cells. Red blood cells live for about four months, while white blood cells live on average more than a year. Skin cells live about two or three weeks. Cells in your bones change about 10% a year. Remembering your maths skills of how to calculate compound interest, your bones, your skeleton changes completely every 7 years. There’s only one or two types of cells that don’t get replaced – even that statement is complicated…

It’s a bit like photocopying isn’t it? Cells making a copy of a copy of a copy… Ultimately the copies are of too poor quality. We die.

So if “resurrection of the body” is not to be mocked as nonsense, we need to recognise a metaphorical dimension [while never giving in to “it’s just/merely/only a metaphor”].

You can use the model/metaphor of caterpillars and butterflies. St Paul in 1 Cor 15:35-50 uses the model/metaphor of seed and plant – there is continuity and change. Transformation.

But someone will ask, ‘How are the dead raised? With what kind of body do they come?’ Fool! What you sow does not come to life unless it dies. And as for what you sow, you do not sow the body that is to be, but a bare seed, perhaps of wheat or of some other grain. But God gives it a body as he has chosen, and to each kind of seed its own body. …

So it is with the resurrection of the dead. What is sown is perishable, what is raised is imperishable. It is sown in dishonour, it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness, it is raised in power. It is sown a physical body, it is raised a spiritual body. …

What I am saying, brothers and sisters, is this: flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable.

The model/metaphor of having a body is similar. There was a time you were three years old – you probably remember it – your body now is mostly different. Continuity and change and transformation.

Even notice the language we use. We say, “I have a body”. I have 75 trillion cells. Not “I am 75 trillion cells”. There is an “I” that was there when I was 3. And that I is still here now – changed, grown, transformed.

The power at the heart of the universe, the power that launched the Big Bang, the power that creates and evolves life, the power that makes us thinking, feeling, loving beings, the power that rose Jesus from the dead, the power that the creed proclaims as God Father almighty, that power means that whatever happens All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well.

This is the thirty-second post in a series on the Creed.

The first is Apostles’ Creed.
The second is I believe in God.
The third is a source of the Apostles’ Creed.
The fourth is I believe in the Father.
The fifth is Handing over the Creed.
The sixth is I believe in Jesus Christ, God’s only Son
The seventh is Don’t use the creed in worship
They eighth is Truly God truly human
The ninth is Conceived by the Holy Spirit
The tenth is Don’t use the creed in worship (part 2)
The eleventh is Born of the Virgin Mary
The twelfth is Don’t use the creed in worship (part 3)
The thirteenth is Crucified under Pontius Pilate
The fourteenth is crucified
The fifteenth is Holy Saturday
This sixteenth is He descended to the dead
The seventeenth is on the third day he rose again
The eighteenth is Seated at the right hand of the Father
The nineteenth is Judge the living and the dead
The twentieth is I believe in the Holy Spirit
The twenty-first is But Wait, There’s More!
The twenty-second is And the Son
The twenty-third is Filioque
The twenty-fourth is Two hands of God
The twenty-fifth is Don’t believe in the Church
The twenty-sixth is I believe one Church
The twenty-seventh is I believe in holy church
The twenty-eighth is I believe in catholic church
The twenty-ninth is I believe in apostolic church
The thirtieth is The Communion of Saints
The thirty-first is The Forgiveness of Sins

Today is the Eleventh Day of Easter.

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4 Responses to Life Everlasting

  1. It is also interesting that when biologists analyzed tissue from the body of one of the long lived humans, they were able to determine that the stem cells, the bodies master cells, have a finite number of divisions encoded into them. Once you have achieved that finite number the stem cell will eventually die. This elderly person was discovered to be down to the last couple of white blood stem cells in her body when she died. She had enjoyed fairly vigerous health until just her last few years.

    http://www.geeksaresexy.net/2014/04/29/finite-stem-cells-could-be-key-to-mortality/

  2. Thank you for this series on the Creed!

    My 21st century eyes and brain, stuck in the empiricism of our age, struggles with the individual bits of the creed, but despite all of that, there is something in my heart that cries “yes” to our proclamation of faith.

    I’ll go with my heart.

    Lou Poulain,
    who, truth be told, really is stuck with a 20th century set of eyes and brain (despite the constant replacement of cells).
    Silicon Valley CA

  3. Let’s face it, Bosco, the ‘resurrection body’ of us humans is a mystery ‘hidden in God’. However, in your quoted passage from Paul’s 1 Cor.15, the insight it gives us is that something of the Image and Likeness of God, in which we were first created, is going to survive the physical body after death. I guess that’s really all we can assume. However, as our earthly body returns to the dust (from the liturgy of Ash Wednesday), I presume that what is raised up is the essential goodness that has been found present in us during our lifetime, forming the resurrection body that will be ours in the future.

    In trying to speak of this at a funeral, I have sometimes said to the congregation – after reading 1 Cor. 15 – that, if they have never done anything good in their life up until the present time, perhaps they need to change the situation – in order to have something from which the resurrection body can be constituted after death.

    A bit corny I know, but – I submit – as near as we humans can get to any objective understanding of bodily resurrection.

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About This Site Welcome to this ecumenical website of resources and reflections on liturgy, spirituality, and worship for individuals and communities. It is run by Rev. Bosco Peters.

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