One Foot Out of the Grave
Monday of Easter 3
8 May 2017
We live with one foot out of the grave. We expect to live with one foot in the grave. We see sickness and death all around us. A friend has cancer, another is killed in a automobile collision. We hear of the flesh ripped apart by bombs in the killing zones of war. We grieve for young lives snuffed out by the wicked rage of the terroristic shooters. Our expectation, conditioned as it is by our sight and experience, is not the living of which the Bible speaks. The Bible says that we live, truly live, by faith.
What God gives and promises trumps our sight and experience. To live in these gifts and promises of God is to live by faith. God promises that we live with one foot out of the grave. While we feel that we are headed down into our six feet of clay, St. Paul tells us that we are following our true Head into the tomb from which we, together with Him, arose. Our feeling cannot overcome the promise of God that those who sleep will be raised in Christ the resurrected Lord.
As a child I found anything connected to death creepy. I was not taken to funerals or into funeral homes until I was an adolescent, the theory being that it would be traumatic to a child's psyche, so death was hidden. I thought it was weird that the early Roman Christians worshiped in the catacombs where the remains of the faithful dead were stacked all around. It was like worshiping in a grave. How could they? And while there may be practical reasons for their choice to worship in the catacombs, not least of which was the Roman revulsion of the dead which kept them from snooping around, yet the Christians lived among the dead as a decisive witness to the powerlessness of death over the faithful. The older I get, the more worship in the catacombs attracts me. Perhaps if we could see rightly, we are worshiping in a grave. Death is all around us. Maybe the early Christians weren't so weird after all. We can live life because we already have one foot out of the grave.

Rev. Dr. Scott R. Murray
Memorial Lutheran Church

Martin Luther
"If I know this and believe it, my heart or conscience and soul have already passed through death and grave and are in heaven with Christ, dwell there and rejoice over it. And in that way we have the two best parts, much more than half, of the resurrection behind us. And because Christ animates and renews the heart by faith, He will also surely drag the decomposed rascal after Him and clothe him again, so that we can behold Him and live with Him. For that is His Word and work on which we are baptized and live and die.
"Therefore this will surely not fail us, as little as it failed Him. No matter when or how God ordains that we die, whether in bed or in the fire, in the water, by rope or by sword, the devil, death's master and butcher, will surely see to killing us and carry out his trade, so that we will not be able to choose or select a mode of death. But no matter how he executes us, it shall not harm us. He may give us a bitter potion, such as is administered to put people to sleep and make them insensitive, but we will wake up again and come forth on that Day, when the trumpet will sound. The devil shall not prevent that, because even now we are more than halfway out of death in Christ, and he will not be able to hold back this poor belly and bag of maggots either.
"Behold, thus we must view our treasure and turn away from temporal reality which lies before our eyes and senses. We must not let death and other misfortune, distress and misery, terrify us so. Nor must we regard what the world has and can do, but balance this against what we are and have in Christ. For our confidence is built entirely on the fact that He has arisen and that we have life with Him already and are no longer in the power of death.
"Therefore let the world be mad and foolish, boasting of and relying on its money and goods; and let the devil rage with his poisonous darts in our conscience; and let him afflict us with all sorts of trouble-against all of this our one defiant boast shall be that Christ is our Firstfruits, that He has initiated the resurrection, that He has burst through the devil's kingdom, through hell and death, that He no longer dies or sleeps but rules and reigns up above eternally, in order to rescue us, too, from this prison and death. Our money and goods and all that we may boast of shall repose in Him at a place which neither devil nor world can venture to approach." 

Martin Luther, Commentary on 1 Corinthians 15, 20-21
Revelation 21:1-4, 10-11, 22-27

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, "Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning nor crying nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away." And he carried me away in the Spirit to a great, high mountain, and showed me the holy city Jerusalem coming down out of heaven from God, having the glory of God, its radiance like a most rare jewel, like a jasper, clear as crystal. And I saw no temple in the city, for its temple is the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb. And the city has no need of sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and its lamp is the Lamb. By its light will the nations walk, and the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it, and its gates will never be shut by day- and there will be no night there. They will bring into it the glory and the honor of the nations. But nothing unclean will ever enter it, nor anyone who does what is detestable or false, but only those who are written in the Lamb's book of life. (ESV)
Lord Christ, Your death has become our life. Help us to live in the midst of death with full confidence in Your life. Amen.
For the catechumens of this and other parishes, that they might confess faithfully the Lord into whose life they have been baptized
For Webb Thompson, who is gravely ill, that the holy angels would gather around his bed
For President Don Christian of Concordia University Texas, that God the Lord would bless his work to the glory of the eternal truth of the gospel of Christ                                     
Art: GRÜNEWALD, Matthias  Resurrection (c. 1515)
Memorial Lutheran Church
© Scott Murray 2017
Memorial Lutheran Church, 5800 Westheimer Rd., Houston, TX 77057
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