Look at him Look not at his divinity, but look rather at his freedom Look not at the exaggerated tales of his power but look, rather at his infinate capacity to give himself away Look not at the first century mythology that surrounds him but look rather, at his courage to be, his ability to live, and the contagious quality of his love Stop your frantic search! Be still and know that this is God this love, this freedom, this life, this being And when you are accepted, accept yourself when you are forgiven forgive yourself when you are loved, love yourself Grasp that Christpower and dare to be yourself John Shelby Spong
I wrote this little devotional for my SS class yesterday. They seemed to like it so I thought I would share it here.
An Easter Meditation
The bible’s teachings on Jesus’ resurrection leaves my mind in knots. It insists that Jesus rose from the dead and that his tomb was empty. But it doesn’t really tell us what resurrection means. Was it simply the resuscitation of a dead corpse? Surely not. There are other stories in the scriptures of people who were brought back to life after their death, but they had to face death again. Not so for Jesus. The bible says that he died once and that he will never die again. So his resurrection is more than a resuscitation. Was Jesus’ resurrected body a physical one? The scriptures are, again, either not clear on this or perhaps even at odds on the subject. The resurrected Jesus could be touched and ate food, implying physicality much like our own. But he also had the ability to either walk through closed, locked doors or to “beam” himself great distances at will. Plus, according to some accounts, he had the ability to disguise his physical appearance so that no one knew who he was until he chose to reveal himself. These accounts are quite foreign to our understanding of physicality. And then, while the gospels seem to insist that Jesus physically rose from the grave, the apostle Paul said that Jesus had a spiritual body, yet, Paul doesn’t really tell us what that means. What is a spiritual body?
So if I try to take the accounts of Jesus’ resurrection in the scriptures literally, they leave my mind in knots. I feel like something happened that first Easter morning, but I don’t know what. I have to admit that I really don’t know what happened to the body of Jesus 2000 years ago. I tend to be rather agnostic about what a resurrected or spiritual body is. I just don’t know.
Yet I am firmly convinced that Christ is risen. Today. How can this be?
I practiced with my church’s choir last Wednesday night for today’s Easter service. The music was wonderful. But two things really struck me as I watched them sing.
First, they seemed so joyful, so exuberant, so full of life. Smiles were on almost every face. And the director didn’t have to tell them to do so. I couldn’t help but wonder to myself, given my agnosticism about the resurrection, where does this joy come from? Second, they were singing an old hymn, “He Lives.” And the last line of the chorus goes: “You ask me how I know he lives? He lives within my heart.” Mystics. They’re everywhere.
But I find it interesting to consider that proof of the resurrection is not based upon verification of an empty tomb or upon a metaphysical understanding of what a resurrected body might be, but, rather, upon subjective experience – he lives within my heart. And the thought came to me, despite what I might or might not believe about Jesus’ body 2000 years ago, I am convinced that his Body is still alive today. His Body is still alive and well wherever we are the hands and feet of Jesus. Is it physical? Certainly. Is it spiritual? I’d say so.
Is it heretical to think that we might be Christ’s resurrected Body? Perhaps. Perhaps not. After all, the Christian scriptures do speak of us as being his Body and of him as being the head. Aren’t we here to continue his work on earth, to see God’s kingdom continue to come? I don’t know about the physicality of Jesus’ resurrection 2000 years ago. But I do think “He Lives” on in each and every one of us today as we continue his ministry and seek to be his Body on earth.