April 15, 2017

An Easter Message from the Acting Dean

I read an article some time ago that described the Gospel accounts of Holy Week and Easter as being like an Agatha Christie murder mystery: there are plots and motives aplenty; among the actors in the drama are heroes and villains, brave people and cowards; the victim is killed and quickly buried. The Gospel narratives of Holy Week and Easter contain a classic murder mystery plot, but there are two major plot twists: the first is that we already know whodunit before reading the story. The second twist is a surprise ending: the murdered victim gets up from his grave three days later and walks away.

Incredible as it may at first appear, the story of Jesus’s resurrection from death is not a work of fiction. The resurrection story relates a miracle that has meaning for every human life: Jesus, crucified, dead and buried is raised from the dead, given a new and eternal life, and promises that all people and the whole creation will eternally share in that new life.

The miracle of Easter is not some divine magic trick. Magic creates an illusion that, while believable to the eye, is ultimately an illusion.

Jesus performed many miracles in the Gospels – changing water into wine at a wedding feast (John), healing a sick child (Mark), giving sight to a blind man (Matthew, Mark, Luke, John), and finally raising Lazarus from the grave (John). All were miracles. None of them were magic.

The miracles of Jesus are life in God’s reign slowed down so that our eyes can glimpse the fullness of life in God’s kingdom. The miracles of Jesus are signs of the larger reality they point to – God’s good will toward creation and God’s loving purpose for all people and each person. The fullness of life in God’s kingdom is all about endless abundance and thanksgiving, healing and wholeness, restoration and sight, reconciliation and reunion, love of God and service of neighbor, eternal life.

The last miracle of Jesus recorded in the Gospels was the greatest. Jesus, who was killed and lain in the tomb, was also raised from death and given a new life by God. Jesus’ resurrection is also a seal and promise that Jesus’ story will be our story: Raised from death and the grave and given a new body, a renewed spirit and a restored soul strong enough to receive and thrive in the direct sunlight of God’s love in the company of all whom we love.

The Gospels do indeed have a surprise ending – not only that the corpse gets up and walks away, but that Jesus walks into a new life and promises you and me and all people a new and eternal life after we die. And while we live this earthly part of our life, Jesus bids us follow in his path of healing and loving service to all who suffer, to work towards liberation and dignity for all who are oppressed or marginalized, to feed all who are hungry, to heal all that is broken in human life. And the path the love of Jesus calls us to walk as his followers is also the path that leads through his death and resurrection and on to eternal life.

Alleluia! Christ is risen indeed! Thanks be to God! Alleluia!