Easter Day C, 2016
A Liturgy is also available
IN THE MIDST OF BROKENNESS, HEALING AND HUMOUR STIRS
Easter Day – today - is regarded as the most important day in the liturgical life of the church.
It is such a big day that all the other Sundays are called 'Little Easters.'
Theologically speaking, Christmas doesn't hold a candle to Easter.
It is the day in which we celebrate the mystery of resurrection.
Notice that. I said 'mystery' of resurrection, not the 'fact' of resurrection (JShuck. Shuck&Jive blog, 2007).
Listening to some suggestions of a colleague, we modern folks like facts.
Did this happen?
Did this not happen?
What are the facts?
But as this colleague has pointed out, correctly I reckon,
the problem with religious symbols such as resurrection is,
they are not fact-friendly (JShuck. Shuck&Jive blog, 2007).
This day, as part of the 'mystery' of resurrection, we celebrate life over death.
This day we celebrate changed possibilities.
And give thanks for the Spirit of Life visible in Jesus,
visible in each one of us,
visible in people in all walks of life...
As we do celebrate, we also acknowledge that all we have,
are the stories, shaped and reshaped and told orally,
by people of faith from generation to generation.
No logical, scientific proof of a ‘bodily’ resurrection.
No videotape of an empty tomb.
No seismograph of an Easter earthquake. Just the stories.
That in the midst of brokenness, healing stirs.
That in the midst of darkness, a light shines.
That in the midst of death, life is breaking forth.
That when all seems gone, hope springs eternal.
True, Jesus’ death mattered to all those early storytellers.
But only because his life mattered more.
So they spoke of his death in ways that affirmed his life.
And to be embraced by life, not scared of it.
My ‘resurrection’ invitation to you all today is similar: be embraced by life, not scared of it?
Then there is this suggestion I read this year on a Blog site, that even takes these stories with a touch of humour.
David Henson writes:
"[Jesus] is no longer doing miracles for the masses. He’s no longer directly confronting the Powers that Be. He’s no longer teaching in synagogues, or leading a movement, or marching on Jerusalem. He’s just doing a few simple things, slowly: gardening, walking, eating, laundry, and cooking.
"The first thing he does is to fold up the shroud neatly and to take care with his linen grave clothes… And then, in the final verses of the final chapter in [John’s] gospel we realize that Jesus, for all his talk of feeding, for all his multiplication of loaves and fish, for all the times he feasted with sinners, tax collectors, and Pharisees, has apparently never cooked a meal of his own, at least not one worth remembering, until he’s resurrected.
"Meals feature so heavily throughout the gospels. Jesus presided over many feasts and meals. But he apparently didn’t take the time to cook them himself. He certainly took the time to criticize those like Martha who did spend so much time cooking, but we never see him actually cooking a meal in the gospels.
"But here, the last thing Jesus does on earth is cook a meal, his first recorded one, and then he commands Peter to feed his sheep. In the resurrection, it seems, Jesus institutes the sacrament of housework and everyday chores”. (pathos.com/blog)
It is good to be reminded of these very human activities.
Especially in the midst of so much super-natural stuff!
So let me offer some other suggestions (religious sounding perhaps) you might like to ponder sometime:
• How do we care for each other interpersonally in ways which do not suffocate and oppress?
• How is the well-being of our neighbour pursued in the complex problem of global hunger and international war?
• How are communities developed positively around respect and care for each person, rather than around a common enemy?
• How are the systemic causes of non-love eliminated?
All human issues to be viewed in the light of the resurrection stories...
Bishop John Shelby Spong has offered a comment which I reckon is also worth pondering:
• Loving God… means that people do not treat the legitimacy of their own spiritual path as a sign that every other spiritual path is somehow illegitimate.
• Loving your neighbour… means treating all people - regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation, age, disability, nationality, ethnicity or economic class - as holy, as having been made in God's image.
• Loving ourselves… means basing our lives on the faith that in Jesus as the Christ all things are made new and all people are loved by God (Spong Newsletter, 23/3/06).
To live with these particularities coursing in our veins,
is to live in the spirit of the sage we call Jesus,
is to embrace life, not be scared of it.
Because ‘resurrection’ can and does happen every day!
But the Irish also has some wisdom to offer.
Peter Rollins, author of The Orthodox Heretic, has this to say about 'the' resurrection:
"Without equivocation or hesitation I fully and completely admit that I deny the resurrection of Christ… I deny the resurrection of Christ every time I do not serve at the feet of the oppressed, each day that I turn my back on the poor; I deny the resurrection of Christ when I close my ears to the cries of the downtrodden and lend my support to an unjust and corrupt system. However there are moments when I affirm that resurrection, few and far between as they are. I affirm it when I stand up for those who are forced to live on their knees, when I speak for those who have had their tongues torn out, when I cry for those who have no more tears left to shed" (Rollins 2009).
According to Irish-born Rollins, you can believe all the things you want.
You can even be as religious as the Pope (Francis i) or your favourite TV evangelist.
But unless you can “cry for those who have no more tears left to shed”,
the resurrection means little to nothing. Period.
Rollins, P. 2009. The Orthodox Heretic and Other Impossible Tales. Orleans. Paraclete Press