God of the Living

Image: Into This Living © Jan L. Richardson

Reading from the Gospels, Pentecost +25, Year C: Luke 20.27-38

“Now he is God not of the dead, but of the living;
for to him all of them are alive.”
–Luke 20.38

Jesus knows the question the religious leaders have posed to him is a political one, wrapped in theological trappings. As ever, he responds to what lies beneath the trappings, exploding some assumptions along the way. Following on the heels of celebrating the Feast of All Saints last week, it’s an especially potent point that Jesus makes here: that in the eyes of God, there is no question of the dead versus the living, “for to [God],” Jesus says, “all of them are alive.”

On this side of the veil, we feel the distinction keenly, and Jesus does not dismiss or disparage this. Bent as he is on breaking down the walls of division, however, he cannot resist pressing against this one, the wall we perceive between the living and the dead. With his own death and resurrection almost upon him, Jesus pushes against that wall, shows it for what it is, challenges us to enter anew into our living and into our world that is so much larger, so much more mysterious than we dreamed.

God of the Living
A Blessing

When the wall
between the worlds
is too firm,
too close.

When it seems
all solidity
and sharp edges.

When every morning
you wake as if
flattened against it,
its forbidding presence
fairly pressing the breath
from you
all over again.

Then may you be given
a glimpse
of how weak the wall

and how strong what stirs
on the other side,

breathing with you
and blessing you

forever bound to you
but freeing you
into this living,
into this world
so much wider
than you ever knew.

Hungry for an experience that draws you into Advent without feeling like it’s just one more thing to add to your holiday schedule? Join us for this online retreat that will intertwine reflection, art, music, and community. A great way to travel toward Christmas in contemplation and conversation, from anywhere you are. Begins December 1. Visit Illuminated Advent Retreat or click the thumbnail below. All new material for 2013! Group & congregational rates available.

Using Jan’s artwork…
To use the image “Into This Living,” please visit this page at janrichardsonimages.com. (This is also available as an art print—just scroll down to the “Purchase as an Art Print” section when you click the link to the image on the JRI site.) Your use of janrichardsonimages.com helps make the ministry of The Painted Prayerbook possible. Thank you!

Using Jan’s words…
For worship services and related settings, you are welcome to use Jan’s blessings or other words from this blog without requesting permission. All that’s needed is to acknowledge the source. If you’re using them in a worship bulletin, please include this info in a credit line:
© Jan L. Richardson. janrichardson.com.

8 Responses to “God of the Living”

  1. Kristina Skepton Says:

    Wow. Loved the poem. Made me think of the verse in John 10, “I have come that that they may have life and that they may have it more abundantly, ” especially the “more abundantly” part.

    Kristina Skepton
    Founder, SeeingGod Ministries

  2. Terri Says:

    Hi Jan,
    Just a note to let you know I linked your blog to one of my recent blog posts, and spoke about your book, In the Sanctuary of Women. Also, in the group (our parish’s new women’s group “Sanctuary; Women’s Prayer and Spirituality”) I have encouraged the women to participate in your on-line Advent retreat.

  3. Suzanne Spaulding Says:

    Thank you for the poem. It is beautiful. I’m going to share it with my congregation this Sunday. Many thanks.

  4. Peg Conway Says:

    Really love the image. The red in the upper left corner looks like a gingko leaf to me, and just this morning I watched all the yellow leaves of the gingko in our back yard drop. There was a light snow overnight (unusually early here), and the fallen leaves look like sprinkles on a cake.

  5. Hilary Campbell Says:

    As you and Gary travel a hard journey, may the blessing of the God of the living go with you each step along the way. With love and prayers to you.

  6. Tanda Ainsworth Says:

    Jan, may the prayers of many, those breathing with you, bring you shimmering light along the pathway of darkness. My prayers for you and Gary.

  7. Gerry Gospe Says:

    Dear Jan,

    I send heart felt prayers to you and your beloved on this day of days, when dying and living coexist in undeniable ways. May you rest this Advent as you ride the waves of grieving in the presence of God.Please know you are in my prayers and those in my Writing Prayerfully circle this very moment.
    BLessings on tis Sacred Walk. Gerry Gospe

  8. Maureen Says:

    I just want you to know that you are in my thoughts and prayers, Jan. A wonderful circle of friends holds you close in this saddest of times. May peace be with you and may your husband forever rest in peace. You two were an inspiration to me.

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