Your Blog Steward

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Omaha, Nebraska, United States
I am more and more convinced that most congregations die from a staggering lack of imagination. Let's change that. Drop me a line on email or leave a comment if you have thoughts on God, Jesus, congregations, the church or whatever.... I look forward to our conversations.

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Easter Sunday, Ambulances, and the Cross

Happy Easter! (This is short for: Jesus of Nazareth, risen from the dead, is the Christ of God. You can see why it got shortened.)

My morning started out with one of my neighbors calling 911, as around 4:45 am we were treated to sirens and flashing lights scaring all the rabbits out of our yards. (I am not kidding here, four different rabbits bolted when the sirens and lights went flashing by...and no, they did not leave me any Dove chocolate.) So, as I am praying for my neighbors, it got me thinking about that first Easter morning...

First, it was not "easter." That is, when the day began no one seemed to know that there would be anything special to the day. It started out normal enough, but then the tomb of Jesus was found empty...sort of like this   We have no Jesus here today, and things changed for everybody...including me. I mean, if the tomb wasn't empty what are the chances I am sitting here writing about Jesus of Nazareth this morning?

I know people want to ignore or bypass the resurrection because it is rather difficult to imagine, much less believe. Also, wrong-headed satisfaction theology, famously espoused by the English cleric St. Anselm  has forced many a decent Christian to downplay the resurrection in favor of more palatable Christian stories about Jesus. Lots of religions have a "Christmas" (a god who incarnates from eternity into history), only one has an easter.

And Easter only makes sense if the tomb is empty (which is why most people who are not fond of the Christian faith believe Jesus' body was moved, even stolen by his first friends.) But the tomb needs to be empty PRECISELY to make the body of Jesus important in Christianity. Bodies are important in Christianity, and we know this because Jesus took his with him in his resurrection. And because bodies are important to the resurrection life, they become equally important in this life.

And, if bodies are important in this life, how are you doing in taking care of your body; or, more importantly, the body of your neighbor? Christians feed the hungry, clothe the poor, and wash feet of the needy because bodies are important IN THIS LIFE. God made bodies, "begot" Jesus' and his body, and the resurrection is all about the body--specifically, a lack thereof. If you want to be a good Christian, you got to care for bodies...souls? Maybe. But bodies definitely.

By focusing on bodies your soul aspires to humanity's greatest good: being human, which includes our calling from God. As humans, we are invited to care for bodies, like animals (are you feeding the rabbits of your neighborhood, or even the birds?) We care for bodies of those who are sick. (hospitals) We nurture the bodies of those who are growing. (schools) And we provide for all bodies to celebrate the blessings of life, and to mourn the days of sorrow. (worship)

And we get all this because God took Jesus' body in the resurrection. If all God had wanted was Jesus' soul, Mary and the other women would have had a body to bathe. But, as Will Willimon notes, "Jesus got up." The Christian faith lives and dies on the empty tomb, and it is not because God had to "forgive " our humanity, but rather because God desired to free our bodies. What God forgives in this freedom is our blasphemy in trying to be God, rather than our humility in accepting our humanity. And God does that freeing by telling you that your body, all bodies, are important, valuable, and intricate in the plan and design of the world. This Easter take care of some"body," not just some"one." Happy Easter!

May your tables be full and your conversations be true.

1 comment:

Jane Ellingwood said...

I came to your blog because I was listening to the Darkwood Brew program tonight, and you gave out your blog information. Thank you for believing in the empty tomb, and for believing in the care of bodies.