Faking Your Death

Third Sunday after Pentecost

Jeremiah 20:7-13

Romans 6:1b-11

Matthew 10:24-39

John and Anne Darwin had acquired a huge debt equivalent to tens of thousands of dollars. John and Anne had no hope of paying off their debts by traditional means and so they came up with a very non-traditional plan to do so. John Darwin faked his own death and his “surviving” wife collected his life insurance money. John went out for a trip in his canoe one early morning and never returned. He failed to report to work later that day and was reported missing. The next day, a rescue team recovered the remains of his wrecked canoe. John Darwin’s body was never found on that lake. John went into hiding for the next year until he was officially pronounced dead. Anne Darwin, his wife, then collected the life insurance money. Using this substantial sum of money, Anne Darwin settled on the massive debt she and her husband had owed and she found that she still had quite a lot of money left over.

 

The couple spent several years figuring out how to invest their new money. After first traveling to Cyprus and Spain, they decided to build a hotel in Panama. John, however, soon realized that his fake passport would not pass the scrutiny of applying for an “investor’s visa” to build the hotel. So he decided to return to his home country, fake amnesia, and apply for the investor’s visa under his real name. To make a long one short, things unraveled rather quickly after that as the police did not believe John’s story, and John and Anne were arrested for insurance fraud.

John Darwin sought to eliminate his debt and start a new life by convincing the world that he was dead.

The Apostle Paul writes in Romans that we who are baptized into Christ’s death and resurrection are dead to sin and alive with Christ. We are dead to sin. The power of Sin and Death are convinced that we are already dead. You can’t kill someone who is already dead and you can’t harm the life of one who is already dead. When your enemies think you are dead, you are free to live without fear. Continue reading

Why Jesus Went To Hell and Why God Doesn’t Fit Inside Boxes

Sixth Sunday of Easter

Acts 17:22-31

1 Peter 3:13-22

John 14:15-21

 

Our reading from 1 Peter includes this line, “For Christ also suffered for sins once for all, the righteous and the unrighteous, in order to bring you to God. He was put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit, in which he also went and made a proclamation to the spirits in prison, who in former times did not obey, when God waited patiently in the days of Noah, during the building of the ark….” Cue the record scratch. What is going on here? Jesus apparently visited “the spirits in prison” between his death and resurrection? This is definitely one of the less discussed teachings about Jesus at least in the circles I am familiar with. We talk about it, I guess, but it seems to go by pretty quickly. In the Creed we recite every week we say, “he descended to the dead/hell” but I usually think of that as a more poetic way of simply saying, “Jesus really died.” There is a long tradition in the church in which this story is called the “Harrowing of Hell.” For me, the big question is, why does it matter that Jesus went to the land of dead and/or Hell? Continue reading