“That’s Life”

Easter 2015

Mk. 16.1-8

In the Name of God: Creator, Redeemer and Sanctifier. Amen.

Once in a while, you hear the Frank Sinatra song, “That’s Life.”

The song’s enduring popularity is probably due to the gritty toughness of the lyrics—a toughness Sinatra himself personified. For example, the song begins:

“That’s life, that’s what all the people say.

You’re ridin’ high in April, shot down in May.”

And the famous refrain of the song reminds us of the need for resilience as we confront the ups and downs of life:

“I’ve been a puppet, a pauper, a pirate, a poet, a pawn and a king

I’ve been up and down and over and out and I know one thing

Each time I find myself flat on my face

I pick myself up and get back in the race.”

Now of course the song is more concerned about the downs of human existence than the ups! If you hear a friend say, “That’s life,” you can be pretty sure they are not referring to good times!

Rather, your friend will be trying to deal with some misfortune. Your friend will be reminding herself that disappointments are an inevitable part of the fabric of daily life.

“That’s life” usually means, “that’s one of the problems of life.” And the song advises that faced with a problem, all you can do is grin and bear it, and “get back in the race,” and hope that the tide will change and good fortune will replace the bad.

Yet, sometimes, the tide doesn’t seem to turn. Things don’t get better. And on other occasions, after the tide turns, we still bear the wounds of the adversity we once suffered.

Indeed, the scientific “Principle of Entropy” says, that over the very long term, the whole universe will only get worse! Scientists speculate that the energy in the galaxies is dissipating; in the end, there will only be lifeless, motionless matter. The universe is running down.

But we Christians don’t have to accept this gloomy future. For the events of Easter Day contradict the Principle of Entropy. Against this idea of inevitable decay, we can set what we could call, “the Principle of Resurrection.”

According to this principle, God is able to bring new life out of death. After Christ suffered and died on the Cross, and his body was placed in the tomb, God brought him back. This is proof that when the energy of nature runs out, God gives supernatural life.

Still, if we are honest with ourselves, we’ll admit that we don’t find it easy to believe in this Principle of Resurrection. The forces of life don’t seem to be on our side.

Notice, though, that such pessimism can also be found in the Bible. The Scripture reading that we heard today from the Gospel according to St. Mark ends with a gloomy description of the three women who discovered the empty tomb: the women “said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid.”

Can’t you sympathize with these women and their fear? I can. How often my dread outweighs my hope. How often I fear the worst instead of hoping for the best.

One of the most famous people to attend Incarnation was Franklin Delano Roosevelt—whose wife Eleanor was confirmed in our church. When FDR was president, he would sit with his family in the Delano pew at the front of the church on your right.

FDR had an outgoing, gregarious personality that made him attractive even to his political rivals. But his inner self remained deeply private. Even his closest advisors often couldn’t discern what he was thinking about a particular issue.

His deepest religious beliefs also were rarely expressed. Although he was an active Episcopalian, and he made no secret of his Christian faith, FDR talked little about his personal spirituality.

Yet, as the Bible says, “By their fruits you shall know them.” The fruits of Franklin Roosevelt’s faith could be seen in the way he confronted the poverty of the Depression and the appalling destruction of World War II.

He would plunge into crises without flinching–brimming with self-confidence. And we can guess that his self-confidence was strengthened by the Power of God within him.

And so we can see the spiritual dimension in one of his most famous sayings: “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” Facing World War, FDR knew that if America was afraid to act, it would certainly lose.

But the saying has a religious side as well. If we know that God is with us, then fear can’t get a hold on us.

We no longer worry about life winding down. Instead, we see ourselves going forward, with God, filled with hope in the future that God has prepared for us.

I began by quoting an old Sinatra song. Let me end with some words from the ancient Christian hymn we just sang:

“Jesus lives! Thy terrors now

can no longer death appall us

Jesus lives! By this we know

Thou, O grave, canst not enthrall us

Alleluia!

“Jesus lives! Our hearts know well

nought from us his love shall sever;

life, nor death, nor powers of hell

tear us from his keeping ever

Alleluia!”

Life in the Risen Christ. Life in God.

That’s life.

And now unto God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit be ascribed as is most justly due all might, majesty, power, dominion, and praise, now and forever. Am


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