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Risen Jesus

by davesandel on April 8th, 2012

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Easter Sunday

Colossians 3:1-4

Brothers and sisters, if you were raised with Christ, then seek what is above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God.  Think of what is above, not of what is on earth.  For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.  When Christ your life appears, then you too will appear with him in glory.

For any of this to be true, Jesus must no longer be in the tomb.  That’s what we celebrate today.

Celebrating it is one thing, believing it is another.  Do I believe that Jesus was resurrected physically and left the tomb three days after his body was placed there and wrapped carefully and lovingly by the women in his life?

Kierkegaard described what he called the “leap to faith” in the Christian conversion, necessary because of the paradoxes (which he explored in Philosophical Fragments).  Matthew Fox calls paradox a synthesis waiting to happen, but wait … for how long, a whole lifetime maybe?  The joy of resurrected life beckons me through the haze of mystery.

Twenty (plus) years ago as a campus minister at the University of Illinois I read Josh McDowell’s bestseller, Evidence That Demands a Verdict.  In seeking evidence to refute the Christian story, McDowell’s research instead made him a believer.  I remember feeling convinced.

But I don’t remember many of his arguments.  Over many years of being a Christian I have experienced seasons of doubt and indifference which seemed impervious to anything rational or persuasive.  I also experience great seasons of joy and confidence in the resurrection regardless of reasons to disbelieve.  The “leap to faith” is more than a one-time deal, I think.

In his poem “Seven Stanzas at Easter,” John Updike writes, “Make no mistake: if he rose at all it was as His body … It was not as the flowers … it was not as His Spirit in the mouths and fuddled eyes of the eleven apostles; it was as His flesh; ours.”

He continues, “Let us not mock God with metaphor, analogy, sidestepping, transcendence, making of the event a parable … let us walk through the door.  The stone is rolled back, not papier-mache, not a stone in a story, but the vast rock of materiality that in the slow grinding of time will eclipse for each of us the wide light of day.

“And if we have an angel at the tomb, make it a real angel … robed in real linen spun on a definite loom.”

In relationships of all kinds, and especially in relationship with God, belief trumps proof every time.  In a lifetime, belief – sometimes strong and sometimes weak – withstands attack, disproof, ridicule, indifference, and most of all, our own not-so-subtle attempts to control it.  After the setbacks, belief comes back stronger.  Its impetus belongs to God.  And like love, it is stronger than death.

As the priest exclaims in the Catholic mass, this is the mystery of faith.  Christ has died, Christ has risen, Christ will come again.

Your body, Jesus, is no longer dead.  Once again You breathe, you eat, you speak, you laugh, and those who love you cannot wait to re-acquaint ourselves with you.  Your victory insures ours.  And yet you hold us, and keep us, and are patient while we find you within ourselves.  What a joy to be your children, Lord.  What a joy.

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