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Parting Words {The Challenge of Easter}

This shared experience has been a good one. Each author has given us something unique, and I have enjoyed the reading and the stretching. Thank you, all.

I keep coming back to the basic question: why the resurrection? When everything went haywire back in Eden, why didn’t God just send in a new species to start over from scratch (maybe in a hovering ship, V-like). Why are we even having this conversation when it would have been so easy for us to simply never have been, for everything to have ended just as swiftly as it began – concluding with only an Adam and an Eve and a sly snake and a great dream gone wildly wrong?

Apparently, there is something about the sheer presence of life (even life that may seem insignificant at the moment) that God is resolutely unwilling to abandon. I imagine God understood the consequences of allowing this story to play out the way it has (and this is where we could offer the long litany of human evils), but still – here we sit. God would not abandon, never. Rather, God would rescue.

In this telling, resurrection is not the last-ditch effort of a God frantically flinging his final hope at his venture careening out of control. Rather, resurrection is the inaugural salvo of God’s decisive endgame for the redemption of his original project. Resurrection is like Normandy. After D-day, it’s only a matter of time. One day, God will again call all of his creation good. Very good.

Given this, Jesus’ resurrection does not (contrary to many versions) primarily look backward, as if it’s main function is to serve as shock-and-awe proof that we better listen to what Jesus has to say (though we should listen to what Jesus has to say). Instead, Jesus’ resurrection mainly looks forward to all the resurrection that God intends to do all over the place. In my heart, and yours. On my street, and yours. In third-world red light districts and among nuclear arsenals and even – can we imagine it – on Wall Street.

Jesus’ resurrection is not so much the exclamation point but rather the new beginning. Jesus’ walking out of the tomb was like the opening line of a novel’s climactic scene or the first note of a symphony’s rousing crescendo. Resurrection is not just what God did in Jesus, but resurrection is the prototype for what God plans to do in us – and in every nook and cranny of his creation.

So, does it matter if resurrection is, well, real? Physical? It depends. We only need resurrection to go as much into life as our world has sunk into death. If Eden and all its beauties and bodies and joys and pleasures were truly, physically good – and if God really intends to call all that good again – then resurrection had best roll up its sleeves and (apologies to Olivia Newton John) get physical.

But maybe we fudge on this whole physical thing and opt for some disembodied hope because the straight forward version just seems too good to be true. Our longings hint that we are, as Wright said, “made for relationship, for stewardship, for worship – or, to put it more vividly, for sex, gardening and God.” However, our longings seem too fanciful, too dreamy, too childish, too mythical, just too much, way too much.

Maybe. Or maybe “too much” is exactly what God has in mind.

2 thoughts on “Parting Words {The Challenge of Easter}

  1. Too much indeed. I keep coming back to the last chapter and the christian call to prayer – to stand in the place between the world's pain and God's love. That too is too much. It is too much to have a hand on real pain and to trust in love that surpasses any love we've ever experienced. But that is who we are called to be. We are called to be more. If Jesus was who the gospels say he was (and more) and if his resurrection is what the gospels says it was (and more) than we too have the power and ability to be more to this world and dare I say it, more to ourselves. Lets keep finding ways to be more together.

  2. I hope God has "too much" planned because we need a lot of help, a lot of hope, a lot of resurrection. Winn, thank you for organizing this conversation and for bringing together talented writers to help us see resurrection in new light. Thank you for your voice and for how you get down into the grit of doing God's restorative work here on earth — in a real, physical way.

    In hope of resurrection.
    Austin

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