A Beautiful Mind
Monday of Pentecost 17
12 September 2016
What will my body be like in heaven? This question is half right. It is not bad to ask what the resurrected body will be like. But as usual we humans get stuck on the wrong issues. Will I be big, small, old, young, beautiful, or ugly? Will I recognize my husband or wife, children or parents? As usual, we ask the wrong questions. We are focused on external appearances, as though going to heaven is like the "ultimate make-over show;" a show starring me! Our heavenly condition is not a question of cosmetology.
The beauty of the heavenly Life given by Christ will be God Himself, not us. And that beauty will not be merely physical, for we shall be like Christ. We shall partake also the divine gift of a beautiful mind and soul. We grope for this in our homey truisms, "beauty is only skin deep" and "pretty is as pretty does." The greatest beauty in the world was the beauty of the Son of God, whose "appearance was so disfigured beyond that of any man and his form marred beyond human likeness" (Is 52:14). Through marring self-sacrifice Christ lives the most beautiful life. Thus His wounds are yet visible, though glorified. This too is a mystery, that the marred person is the most beautiful. We shall have eternity to contemplate it.
In heaven even the deepest mystery of the faith will immediately be clear to us. We will no longer merely think on these things and marvel at their depths, we shall contemplate them and plumb those depths. Our eternity will thus be filled with contemplation of the true theology and constant praise of God that springs from such contemplation. For theology and doxology can never be separated. For now, we praise what we cannot fully contemplate, then we shall know as we are fully known. The knowing of God means that we shall fully know when in His presence. In the meantime, we grope toward those depths of understanding as God permits us. For now, we shall often be awed into contemplative silence in the presence of the mysteries of the holy Trinity. Augustine confesses this by saying that his book On the Trinity is more endeavor than success, more groping than reaching.

Rev. Dr. Scott R. Murray
Memorial Lutheran Church

Augustine of Hippo
"If anyone belongs to Him, although far duller in intellect than those who lack understanding, yet when they are freed from the body at the end of this life, the envious [satanic] powers have no right to hold them. For the Lamb that was slain by them without any debt of sin has conquered them; but not by the might of power. He had done so by the righteousness of blood. And free accordingly from the power of the devil, they are borne up by holy angels, being set free from all evils by the mediator of God and men, the man Christ Jesus (1Ti 2:5). Since by the harmonious testimony of the divine Scriptures, both Old and New, both those by which Christ was foretold, and those by which He was announced, there is no other name under heaven whereby men must be saved (Acts 4:12). And when cleansed from all contamination of corruption, they are placed in peaceful abodes until they take their bodies again, their own, but now incorruptible, to adorn and not to burden them. For this is the will of the best and most wise Creator, that the spirit of a man, when piously subject to God, should have a body happily subject, and that this happiness should last for ever.
"There [in heaven] we shall see the truth without any difficulty, and shall enjoy it to the full, most clear and most certain. Nor shall we be inquiring into anything by a mind that reasons, but shall discern by a mind that contemplates why the Holy Spirit is not a Son, although He proceeds from the Father. In that light there will be no place for inquiry. But in this world by experience itself it has appeared to me so difficult (as beyond doubt it will likewise appear to people who shall carefully and intelligently read what I have written), that although in the second book I promised that I would speak of it in another place, yet as often as I have desired to illustrate it by the creaturely image which we ourselves are, so often, let my meaning be of what sort it might. Did adequate utterance entirely fail me? Yes! Even in my very meaning I felt that I had attained to endeavor rather than accomplishment. I had indeed found in one person such as man is an image of that highest Trinity, and had desired, especially in the ninth book, to illustrate and render more intelligible the relation of the three persons by that which is subject to time and change. But three things belonging to one person cannot suit those three persons, as man's purpose demands."

Augustine, On the Trinity, 15.25
Isaiah 52:13-53:5

Behold, my servant shall act wisely; he shall be high and lifted up, and shall be exalted. As many were astonished at you-hismappearance was so marred, beyond human semblance, and his form beyond that of the children of mankind-so shall he sprinkle many nations; kings shall shut their mouths because of him; for that which has not been told them they see, and that which they have not heard they understand.
Who has believed what they heard from us?And to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed? For he grew up before him like a young plant, and like a root out of dry ground; he had no form or majesty that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him. He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief;and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his stripes we are healed. (ESV)
O Holy Spirit, the giver of every good gift, grant that we might see the true beauty of suffering and that we might not fall in love with the world and its purely external beauty. Amen.
For William Heine, that the Lord would grant him peace and strength
For the family and friends of Robert King, whom the holy angels gathered to the Lord, that they would give thanks for his faithful confession and look forward to a blessed reunion in the presence of Christ with him
For single parents who struggle to raise children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord, that God would send them the strength to be godly parents
Art: Durer, Albrecht  The Adoration of the Trinity (1515) 
Memorial Lutheran Church
© Scott Murray 2016
Memorial Lutheran Church, 5800 Westheimer Rd., Houston, TX 77057
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