the start of tomorrow’s post-easter sermon

Here’s how tomorrow’s reflection begins…

This side of Easter, we are in the business of living out what it means that God raised Jesus.  I would venture to say that whatever the church thinks its business is, this ‘living out what it means that God raised Jesus’ has to be at the core of what we do.  Let me expand on that a little.  God having raised Jesus means this to me:

  1. God does things;
  2. death and all its cousins – fear, hopelessness, defeat, apathy, anxiety, doubt, and despair (to name a few), could not stop God doing things;
  3. God does not fit our boundaries – resurrection was a boundary defying event;
  4. even though he looked and acted differently in his resurrected state, God did something bodily with Jesus;
  5. because God did this, resurrection now becomes a category of possibility for us – by this I mean that we should not be surprised if still God raises things;
  6. the Risen Jesus hasn’t been crucified again – in other words he still lives;
  7. we don’t know a whole lot about how he lives – but we do get glimpses of him… and there are many who have gone before us who have stories to tell of this… John Wesley’s heart strangely warmed, Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s courage, Martin Luther King’s vision, Mother Theresa’s self-sacrifice, and so on
  8. we also receive these glimpses of him in our journeys of faith, in our experiences of God speaking to us even if they are hard to explain;
  9. Jesus living means that he pops up all over the place… we don’t hold him, we don’t have his measure, we can’t limit the ways he is at work, he is present with us and despite us… his generosity, his grace, his love, his capacity to forgive and raise up… they are without limit…
    10. The church has to constantly re-learn what it means that God raised Jesus.  The church often behaves as if it is the bearer of God’s life in the world… we behave as if you have to come in here to get God, and worse, that God’s mission is defined by what we do.  Archbishop Rowan Williams makes a useful statement, “It is not the church of God that has a mission.  It’s the God of mission who has a church.”

We are in the business of living out what it means that God raised Jesus.  In this new framework of understanding the church has to find its way on the strange ground of knowing enough to know.  We don’t know everything.  We can’t explain everything.  We can’t explain resurrection very easily, nor can we explain it away.  But what God is doing is not limited by our intellectual struggles.  What God is doing wraps us up into it… we are caught up and embraced and called to live into it.  This is big!