Author: Ronald E. Holland DMin DD, Elder Ret. The UMC.
Many of us in the United Methodist Church believe that the Legislative function of our church (denomination) is broken beyond repair. It is finished no matter the cause. Dead. True or not, the assertions are being made and the succession question is frequently asked. In what form might Resurrection come to us? What might God provide after such a death?
In First Corinthians 15, Paul responds metaphorically to that question: “With what kind of body do they come?” What would a new process or church or churches look like? “How are the dead raised?” Then comes the reminder of our mortality: “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 (God) has chosen, and to each kind of seed its own body.” (I Cor 15: 35-38 NRSV) Paul then extends the metaphor of Resurrection bodies to reflect on different kinds of seed and different kinds of flesh.
First comes death. “For this perishable body must put on imperishability and this mortal body must put on immortality.” (v. 53) In this metaphor is the reminder that our “Body of Christ”, the church, is mortal and death is its end. Immortality and Resurrection are not ours to give. Resurrection, when it comes, is God’s gift to us. Let’s be patient as we see the newly sown seed grow into God’s gift to us and our society. We have taken the church’s death into our own hands. Let’s not pretend to do the same with Resurrection.