Friday, April 10, 2015

Really Alive

Reflecting back on the Easter weekend, I'm struck by the same thing that generally strikes me at this time of year: I'm really convinced that this stuff actually happened, in real space and time.  I am convinced that there is compelling testimony, backed up by strong corroborative evidence, to say that the tomb in which the dead man Jesus of Nazareth was placed on Friday was empty on Sunday morning; that the dead man Jesus of Nazareth was seen alive on the third day after his crucifixion; that in this one case death has not had the final word.

I think in our culture we generally think religion, if it has a place at all, ought to be about transcendent ideas, lofty values, and a strong ethical code.  Christianity is not about any of those things.  If it includes them, it does so at the periphery.  Christianity is about the particular rather than the general, the historical rather than the transcendent, a story rather than an ethos.

It is about the fact (yes, fact) that in our history - and yet inexplicable in relation to our history - this man who had died was alive again.

I think we resist that conclusion, not least because if religion is about facts then there might be some onus on us to investigate whether they are true.  For everyone, believers and unbelievers alike, this is a disturbing premise.  Transcendent values, which seem so very high and lofty, are actually things that we don't argue about much because they are not worth arguing about; they are just not that sort of thing.  In fact, despite their lofty pretensions, it turns out we don't much care which value set you hold.  It is of no more importance than which supermarket you choose to shop at.  But if there are facts in there - things that are either true or false...

What's more, if the resurrection of Jesus took place in our history, in the midst of all the other mundane (in the most positive and literal sense of the word) occurrences of history, then there may be some knock-on significance for the mundane occurrences and circumstances of my week.  I might not be able to restrict Jesus to a part of life labelled 'religious'.  He might intrude on Monday morning as well as Sunday...


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  2. Paraphrasing what maybe you didn't quite say or left out: It's not so much about facts, as more so the human intellects obsession with logic (see Immanuel Kant's critique of pure reason) Historical in the context that God came down the stairs to us, in what we conceive to be our space and time, though God is transcendent all in that he breaks transcendence to break into the world, to remain in the midst of us, and to go way ahead of us, "I will take you to where I am." (John 14:3) but still maintains transcendence as Alpha and Omega until what our Lord called "The harvest cometh" (Matthew 13:24-30) Even in the human death, the very very deadness of Jesus on Saturday, how far away the twelve must have felt he was, but yet the presence that had come before them had stayed with them in their dwelling suffering and vulnerability, even before the Resurrection. But on the road to Emmaus, very very alive. Be careful on whatever road to emmaus we are on, whether it's Monday morning, mid life, or the dash in-between we might bump into The Christ, oh and yes, even in the suffering and incalculable fear have of death, that one more Easter surprise. God of love now into eternal life. Of course you know when our Lord said"You have to follow" (Matthew 16:24) he was not talking about twitter! Peace be with you always.