4.02.2010

Resurrection of the Lord, Year C

Isaiah 65:17-25 • Psalm 118:1-2, 14-24 • Acts 10:34-43 • Luke 24:1-12

We had the amazing experience this week of being invited to join a Rabbi and his family for the second Seder of this year's Passover celebration. It was a fantastic evening of tradition and fellowship and food. And most memorably, it was a remembrance of God's activity in the world. For many Jews, Passover is a time of remembering God's dramatic presence and movement in their lives and in the lives of their ancestors, generation after generation. We were mindful of the intersection of Passover with Holy Week - Jesus was entering Jerusalem to observe the Passover. He was engaging in the same act of remembrance and expectancy 2000 years ago.

Through Lent and Easter, we get really focused on the life ministry and teachings of Jesus Christ. Most Christians do confess that Christ's ministry changed (in some way) our relationship to God, at the very least adding an element of that relationship through the real availability of Jesus. And we (Laura and Matt) are really pondering whether somehow in that process, our relationship to God has changed from what the Jews understood it to be. Or perhaps our willingness to be aware of that presence has changed?

Hmmm. Is God still an active presence, still moving in the world? Or was his activity in the birth, life, ministry, death and resurrection of Jesus his last dramatic presence and movement?

Now this can be a slippery slope. You've probably had the conversation with someone saying, "I just don't understand how God (or Jesus) could do this to me. What have I done to deserve this?" Or "I am good with Jesus. It's going to be ok." Or "It's in God's hands." Following our own longing logic we can be quick to say that if God is moving and active in the world it might mean that God uses those actions in judgment and intent.

If we have a personal relationship with Jesus, how does that impact how the world works? Does it impact how we see the world? It's enough to make our heads spin.

And what, you ask, does all of this have to do with Easter? With the Resurrection? With an Empty Tomb?

The prophet Isaiah is relaying God's vision for a new heaven and a new earth to the Jews who (have/are/will) return to Jerusalem after a grueling exile that lasts for generations. Now this vision of restoration mirrors the experience of the Hebrews as they fled before the Egyptians toward the Red Sea. But look at the amazing things that are promised - no weeping and crying, an end to infant mortality, long and fruitful life, a responsive God, a blessed life. Why do we read this text on Easter Sunday as Christians? Well, as Christians with the benefit of reading the whole story we often view Jesus as the fulfillment of these promises. Hmm. Our Jewish hosts look to this same scripture as a promise that exists and is in some ways fulfilled in every generation.

The psalmist is praising God who has been "steadfast" and whose love "endures forever." There is reference in this psalm to bad things that have happened (punishments) and a request that the "gates of righteousness" be entered. There is also acknowledgment of promises fulfilled in this psalm, as the stone rejected has become the cornerstone. We read this text on Easter Sunday because in the gospels Jesus actually points to this notion of the stone that was rejected becoming the cornerstone and tells folks to be careful in the judgment. Well...does that mean that this too is potentially an expectation that has the potential to be fulfilled in every generation?

The writer of Acts gives us the story of Peter preaching and it is obvious Peter is also attempting to work out what Jesus has to do with human's relationship to God. He is illustrating how the relationship is different and the role Jesus played in the process of that relationship changing. Peter is saying something that Jews of that day were not saying--God shows no partiality. And that message was new starting with John the Baptizer, leading to Jesus's teachings and death and resurrection. Because of John, Because of Jesus, the relationship of God to the world is different.

And in the passage from Luke we don't actually see Jesus on that first Easter morning. We really don't even have any good or direct commentary about how the relationship with God might be different. What we do see is several people who actually had a Personal Relationship with Jesus Christ...people who had laughed and eaten with him, people who had literally sat at his feet and learned from him, people who had deserted him, and people who at that moment were desperately mourning him. These people who hugged him and then cried as he died found themselves finding an empty tomb. And it was in that moment that they began to process and understand how their relationship with God had dramatically changed.

Is God still an active presence, still moving in the world? Or was his activity in the birth, life, ministry, death and resurrection of Jesus his last dramatic presence and movement? If we have a personal relationship with Jesus, how does that impact how the world works? Does it impact how we see the world?

Yahweh,
We want to be awed by your power
and see it every day:
weather
healing
traveling mercies
liberty
spring
shed skin
And we want to be shocked at times
by the unimaginable:
water turned to wine
cures
safe passage
liberation
resurrection
empty tombs.
Amen.

© matt & laura norvell 2010 www.settingourstones.org
we want to share this with you and hope you'll share with the world;
we simply ask that you let people know where you found these words.
May Grace & Peace be with you.

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