We’ve made it to alleluia again after our Lenten journey of considering our mortality, the fallibility that comes with being human, and just where Jesus fits in with all that. Feeling ready for resurrection? Sometimes the unbridled joy of resurrection clashes with everyday life as I know it. It’s not that I mean to be too down on things or cynical or anything like that, but I am just saying – and maybe you have felt it too – that life does things to me! That is part of why I need Jesus and this resurrected Christ, to help me understand that resurrection and radical transformation of pain and life’s awfulness is possible. Where do you need resurrection in your life this Easter? Remember – there are forty days of Easter, so you don’t have to come to this all at once – but spend some time so you’ll be ready for resurrection when it happens. What I love about reading Isaiah (and any Old Testament text) during Lent and Easter and any time we’re particularly focused on Jesus is that we’re reading the same texts that Jesus and his contemporaries were reading, and can consider how we read them in light of how he and they read them, which brings me to the question, what might resurrection have meant to Jesus those around him?
April 1 – Isaiah 18
April 2 – Isaiah 19
April 3 – Isaiah 20
April 4 – Isaiah 21
April 5 – Isaiah 22
April 6 – Isaiah 23
April 7 – Isaiah 24
While as Christians we generally consider ourselves “people of the resurrected Christ,” John Dominic Crossan notes that Christ’s resurrection isn’t directly described in the Gospels, but instead has many inferences. In his newest book, Resurrecting Easter: How the West Lost and the East Kept the Original Vision, he notices that there are two distinct visions of resurrection in Christianity – the West’s narrative of an individual resurrection tradition that dominates much of how we frame Christ’s resurrection, and the East’s less-prevalent narrative of a universal resurrection tradition, in which “instead of rising alone, Christ raises all of humanity with him. He reaches out toward Adam and Eve, the biblical parents and symbols for humanity itself, raises them up, and leads them out of Hades, the prison of death.” (p. 7-8) Crossan’s book takes us on a tour of many symbols of the universal resurrection tradition throughout Eastern Christianity, and is an entirely worthwhile visual and intellectual feast that you should read.
“Whether you understand Christ’s Resurrection as a historical event or a theological interpretation; whether you accept it as myth or parable, symbol or metaphor; and whether you accept it religiously or reject it absolutely, what does it claim and what does it mean?” (p. 8-9)
Crossan’s answer to this question provides me with hope at this particular time in our history:
This is the function and meaning of the universal resurrection image. Violent revolt against violent injustice is understandable, but even if defensible, it causes the escalatory spiral to continue or even intensify. Pacificm is a sacred witness to nonviolence, but even if it is viable for enough people, it may also invite more of what it opposes and worse than it expects. Nonviolent resistance, planned, organized, controlled, and universalized, hopes to detour the trajectory of escalatory violence along a rout other than what now looks inevitable.
All great religions offer humanity parables bigger than themselves. So also here. When Christ, rising from the dead after being executed for nonviolent resistance against violent imperial injustice, grasps the hands of Adam and Eve, he creates a parable of possibility and a metaphor of hope for all of humanity’s redemption.
Even though Christ is crucified for his nonviolent resistance, this Crucifixion and Resurrection imagery challenges our species to redeem our world and save our earth by transcending the escalatory violence we create as civilization’s normal trajectory. And the universal resurrection imagery makes it clear that we are all involved in this process. Nonviolent resistance is alone capable of saving us from species death by detouring human evolution along a different trajectory from the violent spiral of inevitable self-destruction. (p. 254-255)
Why Jesus’ resurrection happened is important because it shapes the very core of who we are as Christians continuing to live in a world that offers us “escalatory violence we create as civilization’s normal trajectory.” As Christians we are called to be a part of Jesus’ resurrection by interrupting that violence to redeem our world and with the power of God and the resurrected Christ, save our earth through our love of it and its people.
What do you think about this vision of resurrection?
As we experience Jesus’ resurrection and new beginnings, such as those in spring, we can experience them through the Prayer for a New Earth as Joseph Driskill details in his excellent book Protestant Spiritual Exercises on pages 120-125. He notes, “This prayer practice is designed to reflect the Protestant belief that God’s work occurs in all venues of life.” (p. 122) The basic practice of this prayer involves “looking for the concerns and issues that require attention.” (p.122) It asks us to notice our feelings, breathe deeply, invite God to be with us, remembering that God is always near us. We then move through visualizing our home and its people, where God is in our home, at work, in our community, on Earth / in the world, and to where God calls us to in the midst of these places. The prayer ends with thanking God for the opportunity to serve God. It can be as short or as long as you have time for.
Where is God calling you to?
Jim Martin’s The Just Church announces, “The call to the work of justice is therefore not God sending [God’s] church out to a place where God cannot be found. Rather, God is inviting us into the place where [God] is already at work. It is here, among the world’s most vulnerable, that the Good News of God turns out to be very good indeed. In the work of justice, our good God is offering us what we so deeply desire in our churches. In the work of justice, God is beckoning us to experience [God’s] profound love for us and for the vulnerable of this world. The call to fight against injustice is therefore the call to intimacy with God and to deep discipleship.” (p.22)
What injustice have you seen lately, and how have you seen God and the church working in it?
Check the Think! Pray! Act! calendar for ideas and things to do.
Check out the Find Your FBCO Map to find your local faith-based community organizing affiliate and connect with the people who are working together to live out their dreams of a more just world!
What’s going on in your living of the Gospel? Let us know in the comments, in our e-mail discussion group, or on social media.
Word and World: Isaiah. Vol. 19. 2. Saint Paul, MN: Luther Seminary, 1999. https://wordandworld.luthersem.edu/issues.aspx?issue_id=74.
Crossan, John Dominic and Sarah Sexton Crossan. Resurrecting Easter: How the West Lost and the East Kept the Original Easter Vision. San Francisco: HarperOne, 2018.
Driskill, Joseph. Protestant Spiritual Exercises: Theology, History, and Practice. New York: Morehouse Publishing, 1999.
Martin, Jim. The Just Church: Becoming a Risk-Taking, Justice-Seeking, Disciple-Making Congregation. Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, 2012.