I have already presided over a funeral in my new calling. I also have a committal service in the near future (note to my congregation: no, you did not miss the news of another death in the congregation this week). Because of this, I have spent time preparing to lead people as they prayed the prayers of the funeral liturgy within the Lutheran Book of Worship (or LBW). I was struck again by how often these prayers point to the Lord's promise of a physical resurrection at the end of the age. I invite you to pray these prayers and remember the Lord's promise of resurrection.
"When we were baptized in Christ Jesus, we were baptized into his death. We were buried therefore with him by Baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might live a new life. For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his." (Page 206, a paraphrase of Romans 6:3-5)
"Grant that all who have been baptized into Christ's death and resurrection may die to sin and rise to newness of life and that through the grave and gate of death we may pass with him to our joyful resurrection." (Page 209)
"Help us, we pray, in the midst of things we cannot understand, to believe and trust in the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, and the resurrection to life everlasting." (Page 210, a paraphrase of a portion of the third article of the Apostles Creed)
"Almighty God, by the death and burial of Jesus, your anointed, you have destroyed death and sanctified the graves of all your saints. Keep our brother/sister, whose body we now lay to rest, in the company of all your saints and, at the last, raise him/her up to share with all your faithful people the endless joy and peace won through the glorious resurrection of Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever." (Page 212, italics in the original)
"Since almighty God has called our brother/sister, (name), from this life to himself, we commit his/her body to the earth from which it was made/the deep/the elements/its resting place. Christ was the first to rise from the dead, and we know that he will raise up our mortal bodies to be like his in glory. We commend our brother/sister to the Lord: May the Lord receive him/her into his peace and raise him/her up on the last day." (Page 213, italics in the original)
Sometimes, our belief in the resurrection of the body is the weakest strand of our faith that we profess using either the Apostles Creed or the Nicene Creed. But St. Paul claimed that the Corinthians got many other beliefs and practices wrong because they did not get this theological plank correct (see 1 Corinthians 15). Perhaps we also get other beliefs and practices wrong because we do not always grasp this promise and truly understand it. Or, perhaps we believe it, but we do not know how to best talk about it.
Do you find it difficult to understand and trust the Lord's promise of the resurrection of the body? If so, what are your stumbling blocks? If not, what reassures you that the promise is true?