Key Texts: 1 Corinthians 15:42-44

So will it be with the resurrection of the dead. The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable; it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body.

I have always thought it is one of the Apostle Paul’s most eloquent bits of writing.

In describing the indescribable, Paul does the best he can to speak of this ultimate mystery: life after death.  He turns to an example from the natural world to beautifully describe this process.  He speaks of a seed being planted and of the miracle that then occurs.

The words leap off the page:

  • Imperishable
  • Glory
  • Power
  • Spiritual

Two thousand years later, theologians, philosophers, scientists, poets still try to make sense of the mystery.

Yet in some ways it is still describing the indescribable.

So, all we can do is accept it on faith.  We accept it as “holy mystery” and take comfort in that acceptance.

We take comfort from this embracing of the mysterious at the time of death – either of our loved ones – or on our own death bed.

Ultimately, no matter how many books are written, how many sermons are preached, we have to accept that we will, as Paul also said, only be “fully known” when we step through that passageway ourselves into the eternal.

For now, we must be content to see only partially, “through a glass darkly,” is how Paul described it.

For now, we must simply trust that one day we will be imperishable, experience the glory of heaven, bow at awe before the glory of God, and finally know what spiritual really means.

By Paul Simrell

The Reverend Paul W. Simrell has served for over thirty years in a variety of congregational and institutional settings. He is a recognized minister with standing in the Virginia region of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in the United States and Canada and is nationally endorsed by the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) for specialized ministry in both pastoral counseling and chaplaincy. Ordained in 1982, he has served congregations in Kentucky, Texas, Florida, and Virginia. He currently serves as the pastor of Elpis Christian Church, a small, historic congregation located just a few miles west of Richmond, Virginia. Elpis is the Greek word meaning “expectant hope.” He also serves on the associate clinical staff of the Virginia Institute of Pastoral Care, Richmond, Virginia, both as a pastoral counselor and a ministerial assessment specialist, specializing in executive, clergy and relationship coaching. He is a graduate of the University of Florida and Lexington Theological Seminary and has done advanced clinical training in chaplaincy and pastoral counseling at the University of Kentucky Medical Center in Lexington, Kentucky, Children’s Medical Center and Parkland Hospital in Dallas, Texas and the Virginia Institute of Pastoral Care in Richmond, Virginia. He is a Certified Pastoral Counselor, an ACPE Practitioner, and a member of the American Association of Christian Counselors. He is a Certified Facilitator of the Prepare-Enrich relationship assessment and skills-building program and served as a volunteer chaplain for over twenty years with the CJW Medical Center campuses in Richmond, Virginia. His avocational interests include playing the piano and drawing. He is very happily married to his wife Elizabeth Yeamans Simrell, a free-lance writer, who is also a Certified Facilitator for the Prepare-Enrich program. Good company in a journey makes the way seem shorter. — Izaak Walton

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