The Challenge of Easter {3}

The Gospel Accounts

{john blase}

On this third Monday of Easter, our guide for the third chapter of The Challenge of Easter is John Blase. 


Let’s go—much as that dog goes,
intently haphazard….
edgeways, there’s nothing
the dog disdains on his way,
nevertheless he
keeps moving, changing
pace and approach but
not direction—‘every step an arrival’.
~Denise Levertov – Overland to the Islands

Intently haphazard – Levertov’s phrase beautifully describes the dog out on a walk.  I believe it also gives us a winsome way to view those other hounds, those Gospel witnesses of the resurrection.  Wright says “As I read the Gospel accounts, I have a sense that they are saying, in effect, ‘I know this is extraordinary, but this is just how it was.’”  There is no intentional effort by the Gospel writers to turn evidence that demands some verdict; they proclaim “He’s alive!” and that was that.  And, the way I see it, they and the early church go from there intently haphazard… changing pace and approach but not direction… and so may we.

Wright encourages us to grasp the full significance of the bodily resurrection, that its not just life after death or Jesus is alive today, but that “Easter day was the birthday of God’s new world.”  I do not disagree, not one bit; however I just don’t know how to do that, grasp the full significance of something.  I seem leashed to a more day-by-day, scent-by-scent, sniffing out of what Easter fully means.  Does that hint at some doubt?  Possibly, but not necessarily.  It may hint at being overwhelmed by life’s redolence, not wanting to miss jot nor tittle.  My gut tells me Wright would allow room for such, but only as long as after a little while, I keep moving.

The chapter closes by highlighting Jesus’ word to those first witnesses – “peace be with you.”  I will not speak for you, but as for me and my thoughts, I routinely place “peace” in a somewhat military frame, bordered by cease-fires or swords into ploughshares or a chartreuse VW van from the 60s.  But with Wright’s reminder and Levertov’s imagery, I’d like to propose “peace”, at least the kind Jesus breathes on all of us shaggy disciples, as more of an invitation to a tail-wagging edgeways dance into the new creation, God’s new order, never disdaining anything along the way for each new walk is scented with possibility, but always moving, ever hope-filled, every step an arrivalintently haphazard.
Ready?  Let’s go.

John Blase lives with his wife and three kids in Colorado…there’s a Beagle too.  He edits the books of others by day and writes his own by night, sorta like Batman. John blogs regularly at the dirty shame, wears cowboy boots every day, and drinks his coffee close to the bone (black).

7 Replies to “The Challenge of Easter {3}”

  1. I know this has nothing to do with the actual substance of this post, but John, I just want to say I love your writing. Your style is so well-crafted, bold and yet honest. You take risks that I think I would find annoying in other people's writing ("chartreuse?!") but you know how to do it well, damn well.

    And as long as I'm on the subject, I am also incredibly envious of your excellent blog title, "The Dirty Shame," and I love how you often refer to your wife as your "girlfriend" there (whoops, I think I just outed myself as a closet reader). It reminds me to keep infusing my own marriage with some of the giddiness of dating, even (perhaps especially?) in small ways.

    Keep up the good work, sir.

  2. Justin, kind words indeed…thank you.

    I must say, however, that your comments do have something to do with the actual substance of the post…I hit this about 2 out of every 10 tries, but Easter-folk oughta be well-crafted, bold and honest, risky…possibly even a little giddy…not silly, mind you, for there's much too much of that about, but, well, sorta like that Calvin character you have for a profile pic…this living seems to be so much more likely in the presence of others, friends, companions, sorta like the group Winn has so graciously assembled for these weeks…

  3. Before I comment on this chapters accounting of the resurrection, I want to send my deep, heartfelt prayers to the All Souls community as they mourn the loss of Matt King. In this season of Easter it seems all to abrupt to face resurrection hope in light of one called home too soon. May you all rest in the promise of the resurrection even as you wrestle with the pain of loss.

    As for Wright's third chapter – thank you John for your insight into an intentionally haphazard, edgeways-dancing kind of approach to Easter faith. I love the idea of approach without direction. It frees us from the human temptation of having to know where we are going without allowing us to be content where we are. We are always called to approach our savior, ever moving deeper in our discipleship.

    I also love Wright's line on the first page of the chapter: "The portrait of Jesus himself in these stories does not appear to have been modeled on existing stories of 'supernatural appearances.' It was not created out of expectation alone." Though so many of the stories of our faith are similarly retold in other world religions and traditions, here we see something messy happening. The accounts of the resurrection dont fit the pattern of the previous stories and ideas. It didnt happen along the lines of expectation – it deviated! Praise God.

  4. I wanted to be the first to post a comment, as John's piece (per the usual), made me grin and think and hope a little better, a little more.

    But, yesterday and today have been filled with death, death of one of our community members @ All Souls, Matt King. He was leaving The Haven, a homeless shelter where we serve breakfasts on Monday mornings. Matt is always there. He left when he was done, hopped on his bike. A few minutes later, in a freak accident, death reared its ugly head.

    And now I return to John's words. An "edgeways dance." Sounds about right, for me, for us, for Matt, for Matt's parents as they mourn. I don't truly know what it means in this place to profess Jesus' words of peace. But I believe it. With all my heart, I believe it. Edgeways.

  5. Winn, I am so very sorry…the picture you posted of Matt makes me believe I would have liked this smiling young man, probably a great deal…death roars and we change pace and direction, maybe even pause for we feel we've lost the scent…

    Grace for All Souls as you gather and remember and mourn…and courage for you, Winn, as you lead the edgeways dance…

  6. It doesn't seem coincidental to me that I was reading 2 Corinthians 1:9-10 this morning where Paul says "indeed, we had the sentence of death within ourselves in order that we should not trust in ourselves, but in God who raises the dead; who delivered us from so great a peril of death, and will deliver us, He [Jesus] on whom we have set our hope." The word "hope" can be hard for me to get a handle on sometimes, but two of the meanings I found for it were, "expect with desire" and "hope in the manner of trust." I think Wright, and indeed the Gospels, are calling us to hope in the manner of trust — to be expectant for what God will do.

    John, thank you for your words — I love the cadence and daring with which you write.

    Winn, my heart hurts with yours over Matt, a truly infections and giving man. I'm glad we have the hope of Easter — it doesn't take away the sting, but reminds us there is a day when death has no more victory.

  7. John, I really love this post. As Winn said, this has been a strange week, having to navigate death in this community . Moving forward, backward, sideways, crossways, and all sorts of ways. I kept coming back to the words here. They are inviting. Honest. Hopeful. Messy. Welcoming all that is happening in and around me. Giving me room to move – all ways. Thank you.

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