The very best Easter acclamation I ever heard came from our young daughter very early one Easter morning as she excitedly rushed into our bedroom, realizing what morning it was. “Daddy, Daddy, he’s…..Rosen!” she exclaimed, teaching me that verbal past tense is a beautifully theological tool! Yes indeed, He has Rosen, and we enjoy the profound privilege of inhabiting, exploring and luxuriating in His Resurrection for the next several weeks, thanks be to God.
Our guide is the New Testament of course. We don’t look in the scriptures always for direct experience. We do pour over the Word for confirmation, counsel and guidance that our experience aligns with the deep wisdom of the broader Christian tradition. All New Testament references to Resurrection, Being Raised and Rising total some 123 citations, mostly about Jesus but also referring to us. By comparison the scriptural weight given to Jesus’ Passion, Crucifixion and Death is much more freighted; 13 chapters of the gospels devoted to Jesus’ Passion comprising 624 total verses, while Resurrection receives only 5 chapters (two of which may have been added in the generation following the original composition of the gospels) totaling 149 verses. Resurrection receives less than 1/4th textual attention than does Crucifixion. Why?
Creation, the Fall, Incarnation, Transfiguration, Crucifixion, Redemption, Consummation…all these profound moorings of the Arc of Salvation occur narratively in the text of Holy Scripture. They are visible in our story. Let’s slow that down and exchange those weighty doctrinal buzz words for another way to say this more simply….Genesis, Gardens and Fruit. Oops we’re naked and exposed to death now. God born into the world during a million Christmas pageants. Dad showing Son off on mountain top, friends super impressed! Son dies sacrificially to set right what serpent, fruit and first humans screwed up. Dad unleashes Son to go back out to play with astonished friends. All are invited back to Son’s home for super-great sleepover for a long time. One day everyone who accepts Son’s invitation can sleepover. Great food, better music, loving Father, shelter in place for a long time. All of this salvific arc is narrated over centuries, interpreted and edited and shared and preached and taught and sung and prayed….except for Resurrection!
No narration. No “Jesus jumped up and said ‘Whew sure glad that’s over!’” Nor, “They used THIS to wrap me in?!” Joseph and Nicodemus entomb the body, guards are placed, Passover begins (John) or continues (the other three), and then Sunday morning dawns with various Maries coming to weep, worship, pray or finish the formal burial rites. The actual moment of Jesus crossing over from death to new life…inferred. Hidden. Mysterious. Accessible only through believing, trusting faith.
- Earlier I asked you about your own Resurrection story. Now I ask you about His Resurrection. What mental images or imagination pictures spring immediately to mind when I do?
- Using our by now familiar Ignatian Spiritual Exercises scriptural tactic of inserting ourselves into the biblical text, in your sacred prayer space take a moment to enter into the actual Paschal moment of Resurrection. Set the scene as best you can now, don’t worry about getting it “right,” just get there. What do you see? What do you hear? Whom do you meet? Does Jesus speak?
- For many who conduct this courageous prayer exercise, there can be (not always, lose the performance anxiety please) a special word, phrase or message that the resurrected Jesus speaks to you personally. Did you receive one?