The Saturday Post: He is risen. . . . . indeed?

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As I stood to preach this past week at a noontime Eucharist service I began by looking down at my iPhone and in a very serious tone I said,

“You may have noticed I have been a bit preoccupied with my phone as the service began today. I received a text message as we began that you simply will not believe. I’m not sure if I should share it here but I don’t see how to avoid it. Here is what the text message said,

‘Osama Bin-Laden is alive. He has been raised from the dead!’

All the questions and thoughts that captured my mind now seize yours.”

No way! Preposterous! Ridiculous! You’re lying! Shut up! Absurd! It’s just not possible! What if? Oh my God. . . . Now what? 

Now consider the response of the Disciples to the eye witness account given them by the women who visited the tomb of Jesus. (from Luke 24:11)

But they did not believe the women, because their words seemed to them like nonsense.  (NIV)

But these reports seemed to the men an idle tale (madness, feigned things, nonsense), and they did not believe the women. (Amplified Bible)

but the apostles didn’t believe a word of it, thought they were making it all up. (Message)

And their words seemed to them as idle tales, and they believed them not. (KJV)

No way! Preposterous! Ridiculous! You’re lying! Shut up! Absurd! It’s just not possible! What if? Oh my God. . . . Now what? 

Somewhere along the way, these responses got exchanged for “He is risen! He is risen indeed!” Don’t hear me wrong, I cherish this ancient element of liturgy. However, something deep down tells me it should feel more like “We will, We will, Rock You!”

We’ve come to think of Easter as a predictable slam dunk when in reality, the Resurrection of Jesus Christ from the grave is a full length court, nothing but net buzzer-beater with all it’s impossibility, surprise, elation, astonishment and yes, disbelief.

Read the post-Easter pre-Ascension scriptures. Over and over, they were incredibly slow to believe, despite seeing it with their own eyes.

Maybe part of the problem is the way we’ve tended to try and develop “proofs” for the event. We confuse faith for certainty when all the while faith is about confidence. “The 7 Irrefutable Proofs for the bodily resurrection of Jesus,” for all their good intentioned-ness, with their expert medical opinions, phenomenological apologetics and “why would they choose women as the first witnesses if they were making this up” arguments, climaxing in, “You ask me how I know he lives. He lives within my heart,” sermons actually butcher Easter. Easter is not propositional truth we “accept” like a software agreement. Neither is Easter a fervently emotional guitar driven pep rally.

Easter is the seminal event in the history of the world which calls for every man women and child who ever lived or ever will live to be confronted with the absurd possibility that it really happened and be brought to such a place of considering the utterly astonishing implications, that they must make a gut level response to follow this risen Messiah or not.

Easter must loathe the kind of half-hearted “group-think” certainty our tepid liturgical responses signify. No, Easter invites us to “go there” in such a way that we run the range of,

No way! Preposterous! Ridiculous! You’re lying! Shut up! Absurd! It’s just not possible! What if? Oh my God. . . . Now what? 

It comes down to this: The Son of God is either dead or alive. If he’s dead, well, it’ over. “We of all people are most to be pitied.” But if he’s alive, well, buckle up. This is about to get interesting.

Think about it. If we really did get the word that Osama Bin-Laden were alive from the dead, we would be consumed with dealing with it until we came down one way or the other– dead or alive– and if the latter. . . . . now what?

So what would it take for us, some one thousand and seventy nine Easter celebrations later, to be awakened from our sleepy assent into a consuming Holy Spirit inspired confidence in the God who is astonishingly alive, Jesus Christ- Lord of Heaven and Earth, the God who is ‘making all things new;’ the One who was and who is to come!

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Farmer. Poet. Theologian. Jurist. Publisher. Seedbed’s Sower-in-Chief.

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