Grace and Peace from Our Lord and Jesus Christ,
I want to tell the story this morning of Bill Blasiak. Bill Blasiak was born in a town not unlike Silver Bay. Bill’s parents were not unlike people we know. Bill’s Dad was a Miner, whereas Bill’s Mom stayed at Home working harder than anyone else in the family trying to raise Bill’s Brothers and Sisters. Bill’s parents didn’t have much money so they dreamed of a better life for their children. Bill did the church thing as a kid. Bill was baptized; Bill went to Sunday school, and eventually Confirmation Classes.
Bill viewed his Confirmation Sunday as a graduation of sorts. Bill was never going to have to listen to another one of the Preacher’s boring sermons, Bill was never going to have look silly wearing an Acolyte Gown, Bill’s Wednesdays were soon going to be free for Video Games, and Bill’s Sundays were going to be free to sleep in.
Bill went through High School as a good student and soon College was on the horizon. Bill had to begin to consider what he was going to do with the rest of his life. Bill’s Dad had instilled in him one goal. “Make as much as money as possible”.
Around this time, Bill heard of a lawyer that had won hundreds of Millions of Dollars in a Class Action Lawsuit. Bill realized that a career in the Law was what he should pursue then. Bill was an extremely motivated young man. Bill went to college, studied hard late into the night, and woke up early in the morning.
As soon as Bill graduated college he appeared to have his life on the fast track. Bill’s parents were so proud. Bill soon began Law School, yet the future soon began to crumble apart.
While Bill was in Law School, one of his Best Friends growing up named Alex had been out on the roads a bit later at night then he should have been, when a drunk driver end up hitting Alex taking his life. This event set Bill through a whole wide range of emotions.
Bill was angry! Alex’s sudden death considered Bill to consider a whole host of questions such as the role of God in it all, and what would happen to Bill if he didn’t make it through the night. Bill began to consider what he thought was at first a crazy idea that he was going to start attending Church again. Bill went in with an open mind that it might help him.
Yet what Bill heard added very little to the questions that he sought to answer. All Bill heard was of his need to do more: pray more, give more, read his Bible more, and in Bill’s mind have fun less.
Bill’s was about ready to give up on the Religion thing until one fateful afternoon. Bill had to journey back to School from his parents place. It was a drive of about three hours. Bill had driven in snow before. As Bill started driving he was confident that the drive would be no big deal. Yet the snow kept falling harder and harder. The wind kept gusting harder and harder. Bill hadn’t understood what the term zero visibility meant till that day.
After Bill had recently lost his friend Alex in an auto-accident, Bill started to get greatly nervous. Bill figured that if there was a God in control of the universe that now was the time to call out to him. Bill in a moment of temporary insanity yelled out that “If the Lord were to save his life on that snowy afternoon then Bill would give up big money as a lawyer to become a minister”.
Once Bill made it safe back to school, he figured that fate had intervened. Bill was going to go to Seminary. Bill’s Dad was upset at this all. Bill’s Dad thought he was throwing away all sorts of money, all sorts of opportunity to move to maybe end up at a small town in the middle of nowhere.
Once Bill enrolled in Seminary, he quickly began to consider that he had made the worst mistake of his life. Bill had no idea how he could issue words of comfort to other people, when he could not even comfort himself. Bill worked at his studies though as hard as ever.
Bill studied the scriptures. He came across all sorts of apparent contradictions. Bill came across all sorts of strange and goofy laws that didn’t make sense as he read Leviticus. Bill began to consider that no one throughout the scriptures really got him or thought like him.
Bill one day was talking to a Seminary classmate Hans who was tired of hearing all of Bill’s questions. Hans suggested that Bill just sit down one night and read through the Gospel of John. John’s Gospel was Hans’ favorite and figured it would make sense of Bill’s issues. Bill started reading John read until he came across Our Gospel Lesson for today from John the 8th Chapter whose words leapt off the page at him.
“So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, 32 and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free”- John 8:31-32
Bill began to consider the meaning of these words. Bill’s life had recently been defined by a lack of answers, a sense of personal bondage to the powers of this world to the powers of life and death since his friend’s death. As Bill kept reading Jesus response to the disciples about life and death would change the course of the rest of Bill Blasiak’s life.
“Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who practices sin is a slave[b] to sin. 35 The slave does not remain in the house forever; the son remains forever. 36 So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.”-John 8:34-36
These words shed new insight to Bill into God’s role in the world. That it wasn’t ultimately about Bill. Bill was incapable of setting himself free. Bill could only be set free by the acts of a gracious God poured out in Baptism and sustained in the Lord’s Supper. Bill came to realize that the only thing that he was to contribute to his salvation was his sin in need of saving.
Bill was at this moment no longer fearful of death or the wrath of God.
Bill in this moment came to understand the meaning of the words “Gospel” and “Good News”. Bill wasn’t going to be able to question surrounding his friend Alex’s death. Yet Bill knew that on the Cross the will of a gracious God for the whole world was revealed. Bill was going to dedicate the rest of his life to correcting the ways people had previously understood God and the Church with this treasure that he had discovered. Bill discovered in this moment that God’s love and mercy is given without cost.
Bill Blasiak had truly been set free. Set free from his own bondage to sin and inability to free himself. Bill Blasiak came to realize that in this moment that Christianity is not a series of what ifs that define the relationship between God and his people. Christianity is rather about proclaiming the God that loves us and will stop at nothing to bring us into his presence on the Cross. For Forgiveness is granted, not earned.
What can we make of the story of Bill Blasiak? Bill’s story is ultimately Luther’s story as told in 21st Century America. Luther’s story is ultimately our story, a story of personal brokenness leading to the road to our redemption.
Today we celebrate Reformation Sunday. October 31st, 1517 the day that Martin Luther nailed the 95 Theses to the Castle Door at Wittenberg, this event would lead to the birth of the Evangelical Church quickly called the Lutheran Church as a way of making fun of its founder and his adherents within a few short years. The Evangelicals eventually claimed the Lutheran name as their own.
Last summer I taught a class on the Life of Martin Luther. During that class someone made the remark that they had heard that Lutherans worship Martin Luther?
We worship no man Luther included. Luther had plenty of faults. Luther was Stubborn. Luther was a man of quick-temper almost to the point of his life. Luther made plenty of comments about his opponents such as the Pope that were ultimately not helpful. Luther was crass, often seeking to use Bathroom humor as a way to articulate his points. Luther often spoke of God’s mercy on one hand, while displaying very little to his opponents on the other hand. Luther towards the end of his life made many unfortunate comments about the Jews that no one would defend today. Luther made a huge error in public leadership in agreeing to the secret marriage of a 2nd Wife for Phillip of Hesse for political reasons.
I don’t wish for my life to look like Luther’s. Luther’s life from his earliest days was marked by an almost paralyzing depression and anxiety. Luther had plenty of attributes that didn’t make him a great hero of faith.
Yet why do we celebrate Luther’s life today?
About Twenty Some Years Ago, a movie came out called Leap of Faith. Leap of Faith starred Steve Martin who played a traveling evangelist named Jonas Nightengale who had aroused the suspicions of the Local Sheriff that he had no real purpose in town other than bilking the townsfolk out of money.
When the Sheriff shows up to one of Nightengale’s revivals to confront him about his criminal past, Nightengale- (Steve Martin’s character) gives a beautiful answer about sin from the falsest of preachers.
When Nightengale chimes to Sheriff-,
“Everything you said is true, absolutely true. Yes, I was born to lowly circumstances. Yes, I ran with a bad crowd that taught me to smoke weed and steal. I hung out in bars, and I hot wired cars. I grew up mistreated, so I lied and I cheated. I learned hard crime, and I served hard time. I have walked that crooked road and I have danced with the demon Satan. I’ve been face down in the gutter and looked up into the face of God. And I say to you tonight, if you wanna give up the bottle, who you gonna talk to? Someone who’s never touched a drop? And if you wanna give up womanizing, who you gonna talk to? Some pale skinned virgin priest? If you wanna give up sin, and I believe everyone here tonight wants to give up sin, who can lead you off that crooked road? You need a real sinner people. A sinner of such monumental proportions that all your sins wrapped up in one couldn’t possibly equal the sins of this king of sin. Because you know, if he can walk that straight and righteous path, if he can go from grit to grace, from sin to sanctity, from lowliness to holiness… then you, with all your everyday sin, can rise up like an angel and ride that golden elevator to God’s own penthouse in the sky.”- Jonas Nightengale- Leap of Faith (1992)
Steve Martin beautifully summed up the life of Martin Luther and the Reformation of Christianity without knowing it. Luther found the Gospel because he came to grips with the human condition. You needed someone as broken as Luther to proclaim to people how far God’s Grace and Mercy could extend.
Luther is the Church’s greatest thinker and influence since the Apostle Paul for one simple reason. Luther was politically incorrect. Luther rejected the I’m Ok, You’re OK, It’s All OK mindset that dominates our culture. Luther was one of the most honest people to ever walk the face of the Earth. Luther rejected the fakeness that people claim when discussing God and Man. This is what makes Luther’s proclaiming the Gospel hit each and every one of us so directly.
Leap of Faith eventually ends with the Con-Artist Preacher seeing the value of faith in not his life, but the lives of others in spite of our imperfect intentions. As the movie ends with Jonas going from being convinced that he’s a fraud to shouting out “Thank You Jesus”.
Jonas realizes that Christianity went way beyond how his preaching matched his life, but rather how Christianity wasn’t about Jonas at all. Jonas had been viewing God like a sinner always putting himself at the center of his existence, yet it wasn’t ultimately all about him, Christianity is all about a Cross.
The Reformation that we celebrate is a testimony to the life of Bill Blasiak, Martin Luther, Jonas Nightengale, You and Me. The Reformation is ultimately our story. It’s the story of our brokenness, the depth of our sin, and how our God will stop at nothing to set us free.
Grace and Peace from Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,
Let me begin this morning by telling a story from when I was in High School. I had gone to meet my friend Josh and we were going to go get something to eat. We decided to go to a place called the Traprock Inn, right across the Wisconsin Border in the village of Dresser not far from where Josh lives. As I’m pulling into Dresser, distracted by talking to Josh, and with very few other cars in sight, right behind me I see bright flashing lights. I pull over to the side of the road when the officer comes up to tell me that I had been speeding, than hands me a speeding ticket.
I got mad! I got mad because I thought this whole thing was totally unfair. I had ridden with friends who would drive windy Chisago County roads at over 100 miles per hour putting people’s lives in danger. Yet, here I was being given a speeding ticket for not knowing where the speed limit changed in a town of 600 people.
My response to all this was not rational. I decided that I was going to go the Polk County Courthouse to fight the ticket. My parents for some silly reason decided to let me skip school to do this. I dragged my Dad and my Grandma to these proceedings.
I was 18 years old, stubborn, foolish, the ticket was given the weekend of a Viking/Packer Game, and figured I had a case. So, my name is called up by the Judge. The Judge asks “Whether I plead innocent or guilty?” I pleaded innocent, never mind I had no case. Never mind, I would be forced to argue against a radar gun and a cop.
I figured persistence would lead to this ticket be dropped.
The Judge amused by this spectacle, asks “If I was really innocent”? “If I was sure that I wasn’t going a few miles an hour over the speed limit?” The Judge than ordered me to meet with the cop where he agreed to drop a few miles per hour off my speed for insurance purposes.
My afternoon at the Polk County Courthouse draws a parallel with our Gospel lesson from Luke the 18th Chapter. In Today’s Lesson you have a Plaintiff standing before a judge without any sort of case, hoping that the judge will relent from the normal way of doing business. Our Lesson consists of Jesus telling a Parable regarding a Widow standing before a Judge.
To understand our Lesson for Today, we need to understand the role of Widows within Ancient Palestine within Jesus’ day. The Author BB Scott describes the Widow as such:
“According to the Customs of the day, a marriage contract stated a husband’s obligation to his wife, and on his death she had the right to be supported out of his estate as specified in that contract. The widow had no legal right to inherit. Normally a husband’s estate would take care of a Widow’s needs. But the normal conditions were by no means universal. Many widows and their children were left destitute. So, common was the state of affairs that “widow” came to mean not simply a woman whose husband was dead, but also one who had no means of financial support and thus needed special protection.”
Consider that the Widow in today’s lesson was so vulnerable, that she had no family to support her even as she went forth before the judge. Consider the character of the Widow versus the character of the Judge. The Judge is supposed to be righteous and impartial.
I know a woman who serves as a Minnesota District Court Judge. She is obsessed with her reputation within the community. She refuses to go to Bars, not because she doesn’t like a cocktail, rather she fears interacting with someone she has previously sentenced. She doesn’t wish to go to church, because she doesn’t want too much attention drawn to her presence. Yet the Judge this Widow went before was different than the average judge.
“In this certain city of which Jesus speaks there resides a judge who neither feared God nor had respect for people”-Luke 18:2
This Judge had no reason to hear the case. This Woman owed creditors. .This Widow was so low on the social ladder that any normal judge would have considered resolving her difficulties a waste of time. “In that city there was a widow who kept coming to him and saying, ‘Grant me justice against my opponent’.”-Luke 18:3
The Widow had no legal or coherent case to make. It was the equivalent of when I stood before the Judge in Balsam Lake. The only hope was that the Judge might decide to relent on upholding the law. This Widow was persistent in bringing before the Judge, her request, no matter, how absurd it might have seemed. The Judge eventually relented because the Widow kept on bothering him.
What this parable is meant to speak to is the nature of God. It seeks to compare God to an Unjust Judge. Yet point out how God’s mercy will even far surpass this of the Unfair Judge.
Robert Farar Capon summed up Today’s parable best when he said:
“What does this parable say about God? It says that God is willing to be perceived as a bad God and for no better reason then he wants to get the problems of a world full of losing winners off his back. It says he is willing, while they are still mired in their futile pursuits of the spiritual buck, the moral buck, the intellectual buck, the physical buck, or the plain old ordinary buck, to just shut up about whatever is wrong with them and get the hassle over with. It says in fact what Paul says in Romans 5:8 “While we still sinners, Christ died for us…God simply wants the wet blankets of his back, and to let the party begin.”
Our parable today causes to consider the nature of our own judgment day. Ask ourselves whether we want to receive a fair judgment of our lives or receive an unfair judgment of our lives?
A Just Judge would give the defendant what they deserve in Death and Hell, whereas the Unjust Judge would not. A Just Judge would make sure that the Widow repaid every last penny, where as an Unjust Judge might repudiate the debt. A Just Judge would obsess about the widow’s motives or her sake of repentance, whereas an Unjust Judge wouldn’t care about the self-perceived current state of one’s soul.
Our parable for today is similar to many of Jesus other parables. The Shepherd who seeks the Sheep who wanders off from the fold, the Woman who celebrates finding the coin that she had lost, the Father who welcomes home the Prodigal Son that had blown his wealth.
The focus of this parable is on the nature of God in reaching his chosen ones. How this God will not delay in rescuing and saving them no matter how desperate a situation his loved ones find themselves in throughout the course of their life.
What every one of Jesus parables is to meant to do is challenge the given audience into a wider understanding of how God’s reign transforms the earth. How God’s power is able to reach in the words of Mark Vitalis Hoffman, those who are last, those who are lost, those who are least, those who are little, and those who are ultimately lifeless.
Parables such as our lesson about the Unjust Judge are always defined by a surprising even potentially scandalous outcome regarding the nature of God’s grace. To illustrate this all let me close with a Modern Day parable in The Parable of the Bus Driver.
A while back there was a college student who in pursuit of needing to make a few bucks took a job as a bus driver on the South Side of Chicago. The Young Man soon grew to enjoy this job greatly as he enjoyed the people he dealt with on a daily basis. Although one day this all began to change, as a group of punks or hoodlums got on the bus and refused to pay the fare. This same sequence went on for a few more days. When eventually this Bus Driver sees a Police Officer on the Corner and reports the young punks who refused to pay the fare. The Officer then got on the Bus and made the young hoods pay their fare. The young men didn’t take this act so well and soon began to plot their revenge.
So, then a few days later, the young men stayed on the Bus till the end of the line. They then attacked the Bus Driver. They not only robbed this Bus Driver, they beat him within an inch of his life. This Bus Driver was in such rough shape, he had to spend several weeks in the Hospital recovering from injuries. And deep down inside, the Bus Driver got angrier and angrier at the young men that attacked him. The Bus Driver wondered “what would possess people to act such a way”.
The Bus Driver eventually got out of the Hospital just about the time the Young Punks were about to go to trial for their crimes. The case was pretty clear cut and sentencing was just around the corner. Yet the Bus Driver still deep down was angry and though he’d never be able to forgive these men who beat him.
But then the Bus Driver got to thinking about these Young Punks from the perspective of his Christian Faith. He thought of how he was far from perfect. He began thinking about how much forgiveness had changed him. So, the Bus Driver decided that he was going to something to illustrate the power of the Gospel to forgive sins on the next day at sentencing. The Bus Driver was going to illustrate something about God’s sense of justice and fairness. The Bus Driver was going to illustrate the meaning of Today’s lesson.
So, the very next day, right before the sentence was handed down, the Judge asks the Bus Driver if he had anything he wished to say to his attackers before their sentenced was announced. At which point the Bus Driver stood up and said “Yes your honor there is, I wish for you to add up all the time these young men are going to serve and assign me to serve it in their place.”
Jaws dropped throughout the courtroom. It was so quiet that people could hear the sound of their own breath. The Judge was flabbergasted and barely articulates a response as he muttered “This has never happened before… there is no precedent.”
To which the Bus Driver said “Yes it has” “It happened on the Cross, For You and For Me.”
So, therefore let us give thanks and praise for the sentence of the Unjust Judge. Amen
 Scott, Bernard Brandon. Hear Then the Parable…p.180. Retrieved on October 7th, 2013 from http://www.gettysburgseminary.org/mhoffman/parables/other/UnjustJudgeSWMN.pdf- Mark Vitalis Hoffman
 Capon, Robert Farrar. Kingdom, Justice, Grace, p.332. Retrieved on October 7th, 2013 from http://www.gettysburgseminary.org/mhoffman/parables/other/UnjustJudgeSWMN.pdf-Mark Vitalis Hoffman
 Vitalis Hoffman, Mark. “Parable of the Unjust Judge”. Southwest Minnesota Synod Assembly. 10-11 June 2006. Lecture taken from http://www.gettysburgseminary.org/mhoffman/parables/other/UnjustJudgeSWMN.pdf
Grace and Peace from Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,
Sally and Sully had met in High School. Sally had caught Sully’s eye from across the Diner. Sally wasn’t at first, quite sure what to make of Sully. Yet Sully was so persistent in trying to win her over, she gave him a chance. As Sally began to spend time with Sully, she soon became smitten. Sully was always the perfect gentleman, always offering Sally his coat to keep her warm on a cold Minnesota Fall night. Sully also had the ability to make Sally laugh like no one else she had ever met. A few years after meeting Sally and Sully were married in a church not unlike this one. Sally and Sully then proceeded to spend nearly 60 wonderful years together raising three children in the process.
Shortly before Sully’s 80th Birthday though troubles arose, Sully’s breath started getting shorter and shorter. Sully then started coughing up blood. Sally insisted that Sully go to a doctor immediately. In the past Sully would have been stubborn and refused to go. Yet even Sully knew that he didn’t feel like he ought to feel. Sully feared what would happen to Sally if anything happened to him. The Doctor’s visit led to Sully seeing a Lung Specialist who brought grim news, Sully had Stage 4 Carcinoma. Sully and Sally were told that the Cancer had spread to a point where treatment yielded little to no benefit. Sully had less than six months to live. The community and family rallied to Sully’s side in his final months. Sully heard from friends that had moved away years before, which led to the opportunity to say goodbye.
Sully’s final days were tough; Sully had to be placed on Oxygen and had difficulty communicating with his loved ones. Sully’s funeral happened on a Tuesday. Pastor Neil preached a beautiful sermon at the funeral about the Christian Hope of Resurrection.
The kids stayed with Sally for a few weeks. Eventually everyone drifted back towards to their normal lives. Only Sally didn’t have Sully around anymore. Sally decided that she was going to try to find ways to keep her days busy: meet friends for coffee, playing cards and go volunteer down at the local nursing home. Yet every day when Sally went home it was tough. As soon as Sally walked in the front door, everywhere she looked reminded her of Sully. The quietness of the house without Sully’s ranting and raving was often unnerving. Not having Sully to tell about her day would leave Sally with a sense of sadness as she lay down to sleep every night. Sally was a regular at the local Lutheran church in town. Sally rarely missed a Sunday because it was one of her best opportunities to interact with people throughout the week.
One Sunday though Sally went to church where she heard the preacher say something that greatly troubled her. Sally’s Pastor, Pastor Neil, was preaching on our Gospel lesson for Today from Luke 20 when he said “There will be no Marriage in Heaven”.
Pastor Neil said plenty of words after this, yet Sally couldn’t shake these words from her head “There will be no Marriage in Heaven.”
As tough as the last several months had been on Sally, the one thing that comforted her through it all was thinking that she was going to see Sully again. Sally couldn’t imagine something really being Heaven without Sully enjoying it along with her. Sally eventually gathered the courage to talk to Pastor Neil about what she was going through when she heard those words “There will be no Marriage in Heaven.”
Pastor Neil was blunt and direct in answering Sally’s questions. Pastor Neil was convinced that there would be no Marriage in Heaven. Pastor Neil believed that the scriptures were clear on the subject.
To be sure, Pastor Neil made some good points in his conversation with Sally. Pastor Neil pointed out how the afterlife cannot be compared to this life in any way, shape, of form. Pastor Neil reminded Sally that we have no knowledge based of a world without sin, a world without pain, and a world without death. Pastor Neil tried to comfort Sally by assuring her that as wonderful as her marriage to Sully was. The afterlife is defined by the things of this world, but rather by the goodness and mercy of God extending beyond what we can even imagine.
This story of Sally, Sully, Pastor Neil, and the state of our relationships in Heaven brings us to Today’s Gospel Lesson from Luke 20. Our lesson comes to us from the Jerusalem Temple during the Last Week of Jesus’ life.
Jesus is engaging a group of Jews called the Sadducees. The Sadducees were made of primarily wealthy and high to do individuals in Judea. The Sadducees were the primary authorities of the Jerusalem Temple. A unique aspect of their belief system was that they only regarded the Torah or the first five books of the Old Testament (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy) as their authority. Since these books never mentioned the Resurrection of the Dead or any sort of afterlife then the Sadducees weren’t going to believe in it.
So, our lesson for today consists of the Sadducees attempting to set a trap for Jesus by seeking to expose his foolish beliefs about the resurrection. They engage Jesus about a hypothetical situation involving a woman and seven brothers. The women’s first husband dies leaving his wife without any children to support her. It was the custom of the day that in such situations that the widow would then marry their husband’s brother. Such an action would help keep a brother’s name and lineage alive. Yet this widow had terrible luck. Her luck was so terrible that she eventually ended up marrying all seven brothers.
So, this big question in our lesson is “Who is this widow paired up with in Heaven?” Which one of these seven brothers?
The situation behind our lesson might seem crazy. Yet similar situations occur today as widows remarry and end up being very happy for a number of years, whereas others seek different forms of companionship after the death of a spouse. What about those who endure divorces due to the decay of a fallen humanity on earth? Is there a possibility of reunion in Heaven? What about those who aren’t blessed with happy Marriages? This lesson raises a big question of “What form do human relationships such as Marriage take after the Resurrection of the Dead?”
I think a few points on this question need to be stated.
The big issue in the text for today isn’t the status of relationships in the great beyond. Jesus isn’t intending to give the Sadducees a description of the literal inner-workings of heaven. So, if someone were to just say Jesus said “There will be no Marriage in Heaven.” They should be reminded that this was not the point that he was trying to make in our passage.
The real issue for our passage has to do with the Sadducees denial of the afterlife. The Sadducees whole belief system was based on the idea that what one received in this life was as a direct result of their own personal goodness. Since they had been so generally blessed in this life then they saw no need for their own redemption. The Sadducees would not believe that which they could not confirm by either science experiment or life experiment. The Sadducees would see Dead bodies in the ground and believe that was all there was.
The debate between Jesus and the Sadducees is well described in today’s lesson which states “But Jesus answered them, “You are wrong, because you know neither the Scriptures nor the power of God. For in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven.”-Matthew 22:30-31
For the real issue that our lesson deals with seeking to answer the question of whether God can raise the dead, and to that question an answer would soon be given.
Additional comment should be given regarding the nature of relationships in the afterlife.
Jesus words from this passage are often misunderstood. The best translation of the passage from Luke 20 isn’t that there will be no Marriages in Heaven. The best translation is rather that “There will be no given or taking in Heaven, they neither marry nor are given in Marriage”. Basically what this passage says is that there will be no new Weddings in Heaven. The point of this passage is not to declare relationships null or void after the Resurrection.
So, this brings back to the question of “What forms do relationships in the afterlife take?” “What will Sally and Sully’s Relationship look like?”
We can start by saying that we do have scriptural evidence of being able to recognize other people in the afterlife. Within the story of Jesus Transfiguration, Moses and Elijah were recognized by three of Jesus’ disciples. The Rich Man and Lazarus were able to recognize each other during their encounter in Hades. In the 15th Chapter of Genesis, God tells Abraham that when he dies then he will join his ancestors thereby strongly implying some sort of reunion. Even within today’s lesson in seeking to discredit the Sadducees view of the Resurrection Jesus invokes one of the most famous stories of the Old Testament in the encounter of Moses with God in the Burning Bush. It is a noteworthy reference as Jesus invokes God declaring himself to be the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. “Father, Son, and Grandson. Jesus draws reference to their family bond remaining in place even after the resurrection.
Yet as we leave here this morning we must remember that many of the questions that we are considering are ultimately open questions or questions that we don’t really have a knowledge base to answer. Questions about the nature of the Resurrection aren’t really dealt with by the Apostle Paul in 1st Corinthians the 15th Chapter (Perhaps the most drawn out statement of Christian belief within the scriptures regarding the afterlife).
Perhaps the reason that we don’t have a lot of details regarding our heavenly relationships is that they will be so different from our earthly realities that they cannot be expressed.
The thing about Resurrection life is it does not serve as the end of any relationships, it merely makes our present and earthly relationships stronger to such a degree that we cannot comprehend it. The nature of the resurrection is such that it will destroy all the former things of existence.
As Apologist Steven Ray points out, “We cannot understand our new spiritual bodies and heavenly existence any more than a caterpillar can comprehend what it is like to be a butterfly. We cannot anticipate how personal relationships will flower in glory any more than any acorn can anticipate standing 50 feet tall.”
For those of who have gotten married later in life to a second spouse, I think the best advice is to let God alone worry about what forms your new relationships take after the resurrection in comparison to your previous relationships. Heaven will not define relationships according to the pettiness and jealously that we often do. There will not be two men fighting over to whom a woman belongs in heaven (I can say this with relative confidence).
We go forward today by seeking to grasp the certain acts of our savior rather than the uncertain speculation. For in the words of Revelation 21 and “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.”
Sally lived several more years after Sully died. These years which at first seemed meaningless eventually developed into something meaningful. Sally began to consider how her continual presence on the Earth even without Sully served as a chance to impact others from children to grandchildren to friends to fellow widows.
Sally’s last days were spent with her kids and Pastor Neil by her side.
Sally overtime came to accept what Pastor Neil was trying to get across in the sermon several years before. The afterlife wasn’t going to be comparable to this life in any way, shape, or form. Even as Sully and Sally had become one flesh. The nature of their relationship was going to take a much different form in the afterlife then what they had previously experienced together. Yet for both Sally and Sully it was going to be for the better.
 Ray, Steve. “Marriage in Heaven? Will We Know and Love Our Spouses in Heaven “. Defenders of the Catholic Faith. 22 Jan.2013 Web. November 4, 2013.
 Ray, Steve. “Marriage in Heaven? Will We Know and Love Our Spouses in Heaven “