Description / Transcription
O Father, we have just sung these words, the voice that spans the years speaking life, stirring hope, bringing peace to us, and so we pray that we might hear that same voice, that it would not be the voice of a mere man, that You would give to us by the Holy Spirit a better sermon than the one that I’m about to preach, that You would give us ears to hear, and that as we hear Your voice that spans the years, You would speak life to us, You would stir hope within us, and You would bring peace to us. We pray this in Jesus’ name. Amen.
A few weeks ago I came across an article in Popular Mechanics, I don’t usually read Popular Mechanics, but it popped up on my phone, and this was the title of the article: “A Dyson Sphere Could Bring Humans Back from the Dead, Researchers Say.” Wow. Are we that close to figuring out resurrection?
Here’s one of the first paragraphs of the story: “A megastructure called a Dyson Sphere will provide a superintelligent artificial agent with the enormous amounts of power it needs to collect as much historical and personal data about you, so it can rebuild your exact digital copy. Once it is finished, you’ll live your whole life (again) in a simulated reality, and when the times comes to die (again), you’ll be transported into a simulated afterlife.”
Ah, sounds simple enough. The plan is the brainchild of Alexey Turchin, a member of something called the Russian Transhumanist Movement, and according to the article, Turchin is in the process of recording and keeping a diary of every conversation he has, every dream, every thought, every experience, trying to capture everything about his life inside and outside, so that when he dies there will be an exact digital copy and later AI, artificial intelligence, will make a new digital him and then some point in the future there’s the hope that AI will have the ability to find your DNA, create a physical body, and somehow put this digital copy in your cloned body.
There’s a small problem with this plan, is that the earth doesn’t have anywhere near the power output necessary to power the computational resources for millions and billions of people to have a digital copy, which is why we need this thing called a Dyson Sphere, which I guess has been in science fiction for a couple generations. It’s a fleet of solar farms forming a three hundred million kilometer shell around the sun to harness its energy, because the only thing that has enough energy to power all of the computer resources necessary is the sun.
Which brings up another small problem, the articles says, “We can’t actually build such a thing.” One researcher from Oxford says, “An actual sphere around the sun is completely impractical.” I didn’t have to go to Oxford to tell you that.
But, Turchin argues, yes, it’s impractical for us, but an army of nanorobots could build the sphere if we could build them and then they could start to mine resources from other planets.
There’s another problem. A physics professor from Fordham says there’s no way to actually record everything in a person’s life, and even if there were, there’s no way to recreate all the developmental conditions in a person’s life.
And then there’s another problem. Scholars acknowledge that computers, even supercomputers of the future, working on these digital copies, having to process trillions and trillions of bits of information, are inevitably going to make errors.
And then there’s the problem that it’s not actually immortality because the sun that we’re harnessing, the sun will burn out at some point, and so the article concludes no, Turchin’s plan for immortality can’t bring humans back in the way Abrahamic religions, which encompass the concept of a soul can, but with the help of a colossally big Dyson Sphere and friendly artificial intelligence, digital resurrection is the next best thing.
Talk about a letdown. The title says we are about to bring humans back to life, but it’s not actually life as we know it, we don’t have the power or resources to do it, we don’t have the robots to do it, we don’t have the computers to do it, you won’t live forever because the sun won’t last forever, and it’s not really possible. Other than that, right around the corner.
So if you are desirous of a resurrection unto glory and eternal life, may I suggest to you from the Bible that Jesus Christ is a better way, and indeed the only way. Whatever your belief, I daresay there’s no one in this room who would not count it good news if you were told that there was a way to have a perfect body forever and ever and live in heavenly bliss with every increasing joy. You would want that.
And I imagine most people in this room, you’re happy to confess that Jesus is the firstfruits of that resurrection. Most of us can say the right things on this Easter Sunday about Jesus’ death and resurrection and that’s important. That’s good to say the right things. That’s vital. But here’s the question. How many of us are actually living life now in hope of that future later? I mean, how many of us, and I ask myself the same question, would anyone look at your life, or look at my life, and say surely he must be living for some future he cannot see? Would people conclude about your life, there’s no explanation for the way you spend your time, the way you raise your kids, the way you go about your days and your time and energy and spend your money and the hope that you have… Would people conclude surely they must be living for some future that they cannot see? Or would they conclude, no, they’re pretty much like everyone else. Whatever they can get now, whatever they can see now, whatever they can acquire soon, whatever they can see with their own eyes.
This morning’s Scripture is all about the hope of resurrection and eternal life. Now it may not seem like that, and I invite you to turn in your Bibles to Genesis chapter 23, may seem like a rather obscure text for Easter Sunday, dare I say not many churches in town or anywhere are preaching from Genesis 23 on this Sunday.
If you are a part of Christ Covenant you know that we’ve been going through, chapter by chapter, the book of Genesis since the fall, and so I was trying to find something in Genesis, but Genesis 16, which is next, didn’t quite fit, but Genesis 23 does, and I hope by the end of these moments together you will understand how Genesis 23 and Easter have everything to do with each other.
Follow along as I read from Genesis 23: “Sarah lived 127 years; these were the years of the life of Sarah. And Sarah died at Kiriath-arba (that is, Hebron) in the land of Canaan, and Abraham went in to mourn for Sarah and to weep for her. And Abraham rose up from before his dead and said to the Hittites, “I am a sojourner and foreigner among you; give me property among you for a burying place, that I may bury my dead out of my sight.” The Hittites answered Abraham, “Hear us, my lord; you are a prince of God among us. Bury your dead in the choicest of our tombs. None of us will withhold from you his tomb to hinder you from burying your dead.” Abraham rose and bowed to the Hittites, the people of the land. And he said to them, “If you are willing that I should bury my dead out of my sight, hear me and entreat for me Ephron the son of Zohar, that he may give me the cave of Machpelah, which he owns; it is at the end of his field. For the full price let him give it to me in your presence as property for a burying place.””
“Now Ephron was sitting among the Hittites, and Ephron the Hittite answered Abraham in the hearing of the Hittites, of all who went in at the gate of his city, “No, my lord, hear me: I give you the field, and I give you the cave that is in it. In the sight of the sons of my people I give it to you. Bury your dead.” Then Abraham bowed down before the people of the land. And he said to Ephron in the hearing of the people of the land, “But if you will, hear me: I give the price of the field. Accept it from me, that I may bury my dead there.” Ephron answered Abraham, “My lord, listen to me: a piece of land worth four hundred shekels of silver, what is that between you and me? Bury your dead.” Abraham listened to Ephron, and Abraham weighed out for Ephron the silver that he had named in the hearing of the Hittites, four hundred shekels of silver, according to the weights current among the merchants.”
“So the field of Ephron in Machpelah, which was to the east of Mamre, the field with the cave that was in it and all the trees that were in the field, throughout its whole area, was made over to Abraham as a possession in the presence of the Hittites, before all who went in at the gate of his city. After this, Abraham buried Sarah his wife in the cave of the field of Machpelah east of Mamre (that is, Hebron) in the land of Canaan. The field and the cave that is in it were made over to Abraham as property for a burying place by the Hittites.”
This is not one of the most famous chapters in Genesis. It’s easy to overlook in a book with many well-known stories and famous chapters. Why would we pay attention to this one? It’s sandwiched in between the birth of Isaac, the sacrifice of Isaac, chapter 24, Isaac coming together with Rebecca, and here we have in the middle the death of Sarah. But it is actually a crucially important passage.
For starters, if you look at verse 1, it is important because it is the death of Sarah. This is the first death and burial, we’ve had death, plenty of those, but the first death and burial recorded in the Bible. It’s the first death of Abraham’s immediate family, this man who will become a great nation.
It’s the first time the death of a woman is marked, and we see that Abraham mourns for her, the first time we have this formal mourning period. She lives a long life, 127 years. Actually she’s the only woman in the Bible whose age of death is given. Only time with a woman dying that we’re given her age of death. Maybe none of the other women wanted anyone to know how old they were. But here we have Sarah lived 127 years old. It says something about her significance as the matriarch of God’s people.
But perhaps you noticed in reading through the passage that the text only has a few verses about Sarah. Maybe verses one and two, she dies, Abraham mourns. Verses 19 and 20, again she’s buried in the cave. But most of this chapter, everything in between the couple verses at the beginning and the end, is about this negotiation between Abraham and the Hittites. So it seems that more important even than the death of Sarah is where she’s going to be buried.
Some people look at this story and say what a, what a bunch of wonderful people. This is a great story to try to teach business ethics, every new conversation seems more generous and more courteous than the other and Abraham’s bowing down to him and they’re calling him my lord and everyone wants to give everybody. No, no, no, you take it, no, you take it.
Maybe some of you will have this later if you’re in the kitchen preparing things. No, no, no, you, you sit down, no, I’ll do it, no, I’ll do it. Probably, husbands, it might be a good thing for you to say, for me to say. We’ll help.
But here we have not simply courtesies and generosities, but actually the established protocol likely of how they would have done business in the ancient near East. This has every mark of being an official business transaction.
And they’re probably falling into a familiar script. Not that anybody handed them, but they just know what’s expected and how you conduct yourselves in these sorts of negotiations. Look here at the back and forth and the familiar language repeated, verse 4, Abraham says I’m looking for a burial place that I may bury my dead.
And then in verse 6 they respond, hear us, and they go on and say bury your dead and the choicest of our tombs, we won’t withhold burying your dead.
That’s the refrain we have over and over, so again in verse 8, Abraham said to them if you’re willing that I should bury my dead. Verse 11, they come back, no, my lord, Ephron says I give you the field, I give you the cave, he says to Abraham, and it concludes again in verse 11, bury your dead.
Then in verse 13, now Abraham says to Ephron if you will, hear me that I may find a place to bury my dead, and once again in verse 15 the people of the land come back and say, listen to us, and it concludes, end of the verse, bury your dead.
So over and over, back and forth, “I want a place to bury my dead,” “listen to us, bury your dead,” thank you, let me give you another option here, I want to bury my dead,” “very good, bury your dead.” They are following an established protocol of how they might negotiate this tomb.
We see that this is meant to be a binding contract worked out in public. Moses, the author here by the inspiration of the Spirit, wants us to see this clearly. So look at verse 13, for example: “And he said to Ephron in the hearing of the people of the land.” We see again in verse 16, “Abraham weighed out for Ephron the silver… in the hearing of the Hittites.” We’ve seen that several times, that this takes place in the hearing of the people. This is a public transaction.
More than that, we have record that this takes place at the gates of the city. Look at verse 10: Ephron sitting among the Hittites, Ephron the Hittite, answered in the hearing of the Hittites, all who went in at the gate of the city.
Again verse 18: “To Abraham as a possession in the presence of the Hittites, before all who went in at the gate of the city.”
Some of you may recall the story of Ruth at the end of that chapter with Ruth and Boaz and all of the formal transaction that takes place there at the gate of the city. That’s the place for public business. It’s like saying meet me at the courthouse, meet me in front of the judge, here we are, we’re conducting an official legal transaction.
And the negotiation takes place in three stages. Stage one, Abraham asks for property for a burial place in verses 4 through 6. Now, look at verse 4, he begins by saying “I’m a sojourner and a foreigner.” These are semi-technical terms. He means, well we might way, I’m a resident alien.
Now God has promised multiple times that this land that he’s in is going to be his land, but as of yet he doesn’t actually have any legal title to it. No possession of it. He says I’m a resident alien, I’m here and you’ve welcomed me here and I’m allowed to be here in this land, but I actually have no legal claim to it. I’m a sojourner and I’m a foreigner. I’d like to buy a burial plot for my wife.
And the Hittites answer, well, you are a very important man, you are a prince of God they say to him, so go ahead, bury your wife in the best of our tombs. Right? Right? None of us, yeah, yeah, yeah, we won’t withhold it. Take your pick, whatever tomb you like. Go for it.
Now that may seem like a very generous offer, but it’s not exactly what Abraham asked for. Their willingness to say, “Sure, bury her in one of our tombs” is different than actually selling a burial site. Now a stranger may be in town and say, “Oh, I’m so sorry for your loss, go ahead, yes, you can use our town cemetery here.” But it’s not the same as possessing something. The gift could be easily rescinded. It’s like if you were to approach your neighbor and say, “Could I buy just an eighth of an acre of your land so that I can build a garage so that I can park my car?” and your neighbor says, “Oh, no big deal. You can park your car on my driveway whenever you want.”
Now, that’s a nice offer, but in the back of your head you may say, “Well, that’s not really what I was asking for. I’d like to know that it’s my property and how do I know that you won’t change your mind or maybe when you give the possession to your offspring they say no, no, no, you can’t park on our driveway anymore.”
So it sounds generous, but Abraham wants more than just a tomb of theirs, he wants a tomb of his very own that he can purchase. That’s stage one.
Stage two: Abraham then asks if he can buy this specific cave of Machpelah from Ephron, this is in verses 7 through 11. So he says, in the very formal sort of protocol, I’d like to do business with Ephron son of Zohar over there. I’ll pay full price for the cave at the end of the field.
Now look what Ephron says in verse 11: “No, my lord, hear me; I give you the field, and I give you the cave that is in it.” Again, it sounds very generous, but Ephron knows, and Abraham knows, that likely he doesn’t really mean to give it, this is just the very courteous, very overly polite way of doing business. What he really means is he’s trying to upsell Abraham. You wanted the cave, oh, brother, I will give you the cave and the field.
This couch, beautiful, wonderful choice. This is, this is the best couch we have. May I also show you this lovely sectional? This ottoman? And this fabulous dinette set? Tell ’em all about it. There it is. Oh, wouldn’t you like all of this. I’ll give it to you.
So Abraham says all right, I will purchase this, this cave along with the field. Later we hear it’s near Mamre, which is where Abraham and Sarah have spent a good portion of their lives. Mamre’s near Hebron, it’s about 20 miles south of Jerusalem down towards Beersheba, so the south end of Canaan.
And then we come to stage three. Abraham now asks Ephron to name his price, and again in the courteous language of the ancient near East it sounds like Ephron is wanting to give it to him, but actually Ephron is naming his price. You see that clearly in verse 16, “Abraham listened to Ephron and Abraham weighed out for Ephron the silver that he had named.” So they both understand what’s going on. He doesn’t mean to actually give it to him, he’s naming his price.
So Abraham says, ok, ok, you, I’ll take the field along with the cave, give me your price, and Ephron says, oh, you’re a rich man, I’m a rich, we don’t need, I mean, what’s a cave, I mean it’s worth 400 shekels, what’s a cave between friends?
You say I’d like to buy your car. Oh, no, I couldn’t, I couldn’t sell you the car. I mean, what’s a car worth $20,000 that has all, you know, all of the bells and whistles. I mean, what’s that worth between… Nothing, nothing.
“Okay, I hear your price, I will give you the 400 shekels.”
It’s hard to tell over the years what kind of shekel it is. There’s different kinds of shekels. Different ways they weighed the shekels and we don’t know, did they have inflation in the ancient world. So we have to be careful with comparison, but as far as we can tell, this seems to be an exorbitantly high price for a cave and a field. A thousand years later David will purchase the temple site for 50 shekels. In 1 Kings 16:24, Omri purchased the entire site of Samaria, that’s like purchasing a state, for 6000 shekels. Later Jeremiah will buy an entire field for 17 shekels.
So the fact that Abraham is willing to pay 400 shekels, he’s going to pay top dollar, Ephron has him over a barrel in front of all the Hittites, Abraham’s a wealthy man, he pays it.
You see in verse 17, the last paragraph, shows the legal conclusion of the matter. It “was to the east of Mamre, the field with the cave that was in it and all the trees that were in the field, throughout its whole area, was made over to Abraham.”
This is just like we would have in our day. If somebody makes out to you a piece of property, now they didn’t have all of the fancy surveying equipment, but everyone would have understood what they’re doing, it’s that field, those trees right there, this whole land, make it over to you.
In the last year or so we’ve had this big development going in at the end of our street. We used to be the last house on the street, and then it keeps going and going. But it does connect me to a few of you, so there’s some good in it. At the very beginning stages, the developer had to come and he had to be very nice to us because we were at the very end of it and we had a little easement that we needed to sign over to them so they could put the road through and basically I said, “Well, what happens if we don’t want to give it to you?” and he nicely said, “Eh, we’ll find a way to get it.”
So, all right, let’s, let’s, let’s do this the nice way then, and they gave us a piece of property adjacent to our backyard so we signed over this easement, got a little extra piece of land in the backyard, and there’s ribbons and stakes and surveyors have been there all the time, and I called to see if it’s been recorded with the county, all of the official things that take place when you have the exact, you know, latitude and longitude lines of this little piece of property to deed over to you. This is the same thing that they’re doing. They had private property. They had legal contracts. They probably even had something like lawyers, thankful for you.
Give it over, make it over, you get the field, you get the cave, you get the trees, you get the whole area. It’s a legal purchase.
In chapter 14, after Abraham defeated the kings, the king of Sodom wanted to give Abraham something. Abraham said unh-uh, I don’t take a gift, because God has promised this land. I’m not going to be a debtor to any of you. I don’t, I’m not going to take gifts from the Canaanites. But I will make a legal purchase that I paid full price in the presence of all the people at the gate of the city that this is now legally mine.
So why does this matter? You say, well, it’s very interesting to learn about ancient near Eastern negotiations. What was the point of this in Genesis? What is the point of this for us?
One commentator said there’s no real reason for this chapter except for simple biographical interest. And if you look at it, it seems like the chapter could have gone on very well from verse 1 and 2, skip everything until you get to verses 19 and 20. Sarah died, she needed to be buried, and she was buried in the cave in Machpelah and move on to Isaac and Rebecca.
There’s actually no mention of God in this chapter, except once in verse 6 where it says “you are a prince of God,” which may actually just be saying you’re a mighty prince among us. There’s no mention of covenant, no mention of blessing, no mention of promise. But actually this story has everything to do with the God of blessing and the God of promise.
Later we find in Genesis that Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, along with Sarah, Rebecca, and Leah are all buried in the cave in Machpelah. So it’s important. But it’s important for more than just a tidbit of family history. This is about faith in the promises of God. Remember, Abraham is not originally from here. He didn’t go back to Heron. He didn’t go back to Ur of the Chaldees for his burial plot.
Maybe some of you have had to think this through, maybe you’re in the process of okay, well we live here now, I’m not from here, maybe some of you have a place where you’re from or some ancestral burial plot in some other state or some other country, and you think about well, should we go here or there. No right or wrong answer.
But for Abraham, it would have been understandable if we would have seen him say, well, this is great, I followed God all the way here, but I’m not really from here, and I’d like my wife to be buried back where our families are from, because one day that’s where I want to be.
But he doesn’t do that. And in fact, did you notice, Moses, the author, wants everyone to be exactly sure where Abraham is at the moment. You need to notice this, especially when you’re reading through narrative in the Bible, what are the bits of information that seem to be extraneous? Well, they’re usually there for a reason. So you look at the beginning of this story, we read in verse 2, she “died at Kiriath-arba (that is, Hebron) in the land of Canaan.” So that’s where Abraham is.
And then bookending the story, we have at the very end, in verse 19, “Abraham buried Sarah his wife in the cave of the field of Machpelah east of Mamre (that is, Hebron) in the land of Canaan.”
We are to make no mistaking Abraham is in Canaan. Which is why it was so significant that he not just bury Sarah in their plot, not just that he be given a generous provision for her death, but that he actually come into possession of something. This cave was one tiny bit of Promised Land that Abraham now owned.
Way back in chapter 13, the Lord told Abraham “lift up your eyes, look out as far as you can see, you can walk from the north to the south to the east to the west, you can go across this whole land, it’s all going to be yours.” What a promise. And that was decades ago. And until this moment, he did not yet have possession of any of it. He was a foreigner, he was a sojourner.
And now all he has is one field, one cave, and some trees. But he bought it. He bought it at a price that was probably far too high. Why? Because he believed the Lord would fulfill His promise, even if he had not seen it and even if he would not live to see the fulfillment of it. It was his way of saying, “No, family, we’re not going back to Heron. We’re not going back to Ur. This is our home now. And though we have nothing but one field and a cave and some trees, yet we believe that God will be true and he will give us all of it.” It’s the cave of faith.
In Jeremiah 32, the prophet Jeremiah buys a parcel of land just before the people are about to be exiled to Babylon. Jeremiah telling everyone bad news, the Babylonians are coming, they’re going to conquer us, wipe us out, we’re all going to be taken away. Well, this is a real buyer’s market. I mean, this is not like go on Zillow, put a full price offer, by the end of the day there’s 15 offers. No, this is not Charlotte. This is hey, it is a great time. We got fire sales going on in Jerusalem. We’re about to be conquered. You want to buy something? Jeremiah says yes, I do, because we’re going to be conquered, we’re going to go away, but I’m buying this because I believe and I trust God we will come back.
And so here the purchase of this little piece of a burial ground near Mamre is a giant act of faith in the promise. Abraham is staking out a tiny territory in the Promised Land, believing that this is the firstfruits of something more, that this is a kind of down payment of something much bigger, much better to come.
You notice that the promise to Abraham did not remove the prospect of death, the blessing didn’t mean that his wife wouldn’t die; she did. And Abraham will die. But Abraham believed that death was not the end of the promise. Do you believe that? Do I believe that? That death is not the end but only the beginning of the promises of God?
Hebrews 11 says Abraham and Sarah died in faith, not having received the things promised, but having seen them and greeted them from afar and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth, for people who speak thus make it clear that they are seeking a homeland, they desire a better country, that is a heavenly one.
So here’s the point. God is calling you, and calling me, to live for what you cannot see based on what already has been seen. He is calling you to live a life for what you cannot see based on what already has been seen. That was true for Abraham. Think about all that he had seen. He became a rich man when he went down to Egypt, even though a liar, God blessed him. And God gave him the best of the land when Lot chose poorly and went down to Sodom.
And then God gave him victory over the kings and blessed him yet more. And then God made more promises to him, in Genesis 15, and then God eventually in his very old age, when they were well past the years of childbearing, gave them a son. And then when he was about to sacrifice his only son, God provided a ram in the thicket. Abraham has seen some amazing stuff.
And now he buys this tiny sliver of Promised Land to testify to God and to his family I believe that God has yet more that He will do for me.
That was true for Abraham and it’s true today. Think of what the disciples saw 2000 years ago. The women raced to the tomb on Sunday morning. They were not expecting a resurrection. Some people say, “Well, it’s just wish fulfillment. You want something bad enough and you’re mind starts to play tricks on you.” Well, except they weren’t wishing for it. They had no expectation of it. They were shocked. They went to anoint His dead body and the angel said, “He’s risen, just as He said. Go tell His disciples.”
And Peter and John raced to the tomb. And over time Jesus appears multiple times, sometimes to as many as 500 people at once. And we have recorded in the New Testament that eyewitness testimony of what they have seen, the risen Lord Jesus Christ.
And so God is calling you and calling me to live for what you cannot see based on what already has been seen. God’s promises are not exhausted in this life. And if we are living only for this life, Paul says we are of all people most to be pitied. There ought to be something that does not make sense about your life.
People say, “I don’t get it, I don’t get, it just doesn’t make sense. I can’t see it.” That’s right. You can’t see it. Because we’re not meant to live just by what we see, but by what we can’t see in expectation and hope of what God will do for us. His promises are not exhausted in this life.
I can just imagine God’s Word to Abraham, or imagine even Abraham speaking to his family, saying, “Now you see that tomb over there? You see the cave at the end of the field by the trees? Machpelah? You see that tomb? That tomb is where Sarah is buried. And you see that tomb? That tomb means we have not seen the end of God’s promises for us. It looks small, it looks insignificant, but I have faith that God’s not done with us. And there are better, bigger promises to come.”
And can you hear God saying to us today, “Friends, do you see the tomb? Not the tomb of Machpelah, where Sarah laid, but the tomb that is empty, where Jesus laid? Do you see that tomb? Do you see that empty tomb? It means that we have not seen the end of God’s promises for us. We have not come to the end of God’s blessings for His people.”
Is this all you’re living for? Just what you can see? Just the things you can acquire? The fame and reputation you can win for …. Is this all you’re hoping for?
God says no eye has seen, no ear has heard, no heart has imagined what God has prepared for those who love Him.
So just as they looked at the tomb of Sarah, God says you want to look at that tomb, not in Mamre, but outside the wall of Jerusalem, it’s empty, and it tells you that God’s blessing is yet to come, and there are bigger and better promises awaiting God’s people.
See the tomb where death had laid Him, empty now, its mouth declares, death and I could not contain him, for the throne of life He shares. Live your life for the future you cannot see because of the history that has already been seen. Christ is risen, He is risen, indeed.
Let’s pray. Our heavenly Father, direct our eyes, the eyes of faith, to that empty tomb outside of Jerusalem, that cave of faith, to believe that there is an inheritance coming, to believe that though we have experienced even now Your blessing, there are yet on the other side better promises, bigger blessings, and so help us live now in view of those promises yet to be fulfilled, and give to us in this moment hearts to believe and to worship the risen Christ, in whose name we pray. Amen.