RECLAIMING EASTER


Easter is about resurrection and transformation – today.

Easter is not about the torture and execution and resurrection of Jesus.
Easter is not about an event that happened one time to one person a long time ago.
Easter is not about an 11th-century feudal theology
…..of “penal substitution” or “substitutionary sacrifice.”
Easter is not about a 4th-century theology of “original sin.”
Easter is not about a sadistic abusive murderous blood-thirsty God.
Easter is not about a narcissistic mercenary God
…..whose love and grace are so shallow and tenuous and inadequate
…..that the favor or forgiveness of God can only be earned or purchased.
Easter is not about useless promises of an eternal post-mortal utopian etherial existence.
Easter is not about using the sharing the Good News as a form of conquest.
Easter is not about hate.

Easter is about the life and message and path of Jesus.
Easter is about us living the life and message and path of Jesus.
Easter is about the resurrection of the disciples – all of us who follow Jesus.
Easter is about disciples living and being – here and now – the Kingdom of God.
Easter is about disciples working together as the living body of Christ.
Easter is about the Good News.

What difference would it make if an ossuary was found
that undeniably contained the bones of Jesus?

To the message of Jesus – that God is personal and present and immediate and available and is characterized by love and grace, whose passion for us is to provide justice and compassion and generosity and hospitality and service, and who invites us and welcomes us and includes us and embraces us without exception or conditions – that message would not in any way be changed or diminished.

Something happened on Easter morning. Until that morning, the disciples still saw the message of Jesus as an unassembled upside-down puzzle with no idea as to what image would be revealed by the completed puzzle.

What happened on Easter was a transformative epiphany.
The women had it first – a profound comprehensive epiphany.
It was the best of epiphanies.
When the women shared their insight with the others,
the others had the same epiphany, the same transformation.

It was as if every piece of the puzzle had been turned upside-right and sufficiently assembled that the picture could be easily discerned. After all the questions that had only received Jesus’ annoying and unsatisfying answers and after repeatedly hearing the puzzling parables and confounding aphorisms of Jesus, compounded by the grief and depression and repressive fear of the preceding weekend, the impact of this epiphany had to have been earth shaking. It was such a powerful experience that it felt like an earthquake strong enough to roll away massive tombstones. It was so revealing, it was as if the curtain covering the Holy of Holies had been ripped asunder and the presence of God could be plainly seen by anyone who had the courage to look. It was so personal that it was as if Jesus was alive – speaking to them and sharing meals with them – a tangible presence. The life and message and path of Jesus did not die on the cross. The life and message and path of Jesus lives like a fire that hovers over us and smolders within us and breathes as powerfully and disturbingly as a noisy rampaging wind storm. The life and message and path of Jesus can be heard by anyone at any time and regardless of where they were born or what language they speak.

In those first few years, this same epiphany happened to Paul and hundreds of others. Repeatedly, it was such a powerful experience that people were transformed. The isolation and desperation and fatalism of day-to-day living in an oppressive empire supported and legitimized by imperial dominionist theology was replaced by the dual realization that the character of the one true God is:
…..* unrestrained love and unconditional grace –
…..* always present and immediately available to anyone anywhere anytime, and
…..* that life does not require participation in the empire
…..* not its political activities, not its cultural domination practices,
…..* not its imperial civic theology, not its military conquests, and
…..* not its greedy and isolating economics.

This same profound epiphany, this same earth-shaking resurrection,
this same life-as-if-from-death transformation
is still happening today.

The Good News has 3 inseparable messages:
1) The universal accessibility of the personal and persistent
1) unrestrained love and unconditional grace of God; and
2) The feeding quenching clothing healing visiting welcoming compassion and
2) the reparative rehabilitating restorative justice of the Community; and
3) The inclusive hospitality and joyous generosity and healthy service of the Individual
……………………………………………………RECLAIMING CHURCH – REDUX

This is resurrection and transformation!
This is the Good News!
This is Easter!
Alleluia!

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4 thoughts on “RECLAIMING EASTER

  1. Doug,

    I always enjoy reading your posts, and I think you’ve hit the nail on the head as to how resurrection speaks to the possibility (“With God all things are possible!”) of resurrection being the catalyst for and content of resurrection. I do wonder, however, if we shoot ourselves in the foot suggesting that a bodily resurrection (and Jesus’ “body” was not like anything we know post-resurrection) is not central to the claim that Jesus is risen. It almost feels like root events are only important insofar as they lead us to feel a certain way.

    Scholars, even those inclined to not believe in the resurrection, will admit to Jesus being crucified and his burial by Joseph of Arimithea, but that’s generally where any historical consensus ends.

    I suppose I’m wondering how we make sense of an empty tomb. I know there are a number of possibilities of what the tomb was empty, including God raising Jesus from the dead, but are we saying that no matter what happened, it doesn’t matter, so long as we (as Jesus’ disciples did) arrive at the conclusion that the cross did not extinguish the light of Jesus as it appeared to have done, and that because of this realization, we can have the experience that Jesus is still alive today?

    Peace,

    John

  2. John,

    It is impossible to physically resurrect a body that has been dead for as long as was the body of Jesus. It cannot happen and it has never happened.

    If the tomb was empty, it only means that the body of Jesus was taken. The Romans or Temple authorities (or both) could have felt it necessary. The logic is easy to understand – consider the burial at sea of Osama bin Laden by the United States government. In the case of Jesus; burying the body of a crucified criminal was highly unusual – to the point of arousing official suspicions. For the execution to be fully effective, Jesus must completely and forever disappear. The decision to steal the body must have been long and contentious. The body was taken so close to the time of the arrival of the women, that the tomb was not re-sealed.

    Whoever stole the body of Jesus made a huge fatal mistake – in the disciples, they were messing with the wrong people. Somehow, this final insult to Jesus by the Empire or the Temple authorities (or both) initiated a most unusal response – a response that did not include anger or revenge. Yet, it was a response that defied and opposed the Roman and Temple Empires in ways unexpected and for which neither were prepared.

    Peace,
    Doug

  3. John Bost is right. Exactly what happened 2000 years ago – literal bodily resurrection, body snatching, whatever, is less important than the question of whether Jesus is alive now.

  4. Pingback: RECLAIMING THE FAMILY OF GOD | [D]mergent

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