On Resurrection


As I am writing this, we are in the midst of Holy Week, in the days leading up to Good Friday, culminating on Easter Sunday when we shout “Alleluia!”. It is a tumultuous week, filled with a roller coaster array of feelings—from despair, to hopelessness, to faint hope and then the bursting joy of seeing the stone rolled away and new life emerging.

We are indeed an Easter people, proclaiming to the world that death is not the end of a life story; that somehow, someway the mystery of death will not overcome us and we will embrace a new life, lived in a radically different way.

That’s the heart of the story, but the details of it often catch us up in disagreements and arguments. For some, Easter has no meaning unless the actual resurrected body of Jesus is seen and he is exalted. That’s the take of Thomas, the doubting disciple. He had to touch and feel. For others, Jesus lived life as a human being, died as a human being and emerged from the valley of the shadow of death to take up his human life again, at least for a time, followed by a spiritual trip to heaven. Still others see no need to believe in the resurrection of a corpse to hold fast to their faith that beyond life there is another plane of existence lived, somehow, in the nearer presence of God. After all, they say, at what stage of my life would I wish to be resurrected? When my body was 18 years old? Or 25 when I really looked great? Or the body which was overcome by disease at the time of my death? And now, with cremation of the human body so prevalent in our culture, I am inclined to think that a great number of Christians don’t see the need to preserve the body except to say goodbye to it and to “let it go” as that princess in Frozen tells us to do!

Questions indeed! It was a question that the early followers of Jesus grappled with as they sought to fully understand the meaning of Christ’s ministry among them. The grappling continues for us in the 21st Century. What often gets in our way when we talk about the resurrection today is our 21st Century, scientifically-driven minds. How can this possibly be?

But we are an Easter people who believe, as I said earlier, that the death of a human life is not the end of that life story. It heralds the beginning of a new life. I am not particularly transfixed by the necessity to hold on to my resurrected body. And the Bible is not all that clear about when such a thing will happen—at the second coming of Christ? When the end times are upon us and all the graves will be opened and the dead rise up? When the State of Israel is restored?

Perhaps to most fully appreciate the power and wonder of the resurrection, we should concentrate on the miracle of new life and new beginnings that God offers to us every moment of this life and then, into the mystery of life lived beyond this earthly life close to the heart of God.

Happy Easter!