Last week I mentioned that my phone was dying – almost on life support with its constant need to be plugged into the wall for intravenous electricity. I’m sorry to say that my phone died. No matter how many times I tried an electronic CPR there was no coming back.
This week I can tell you that I have a new phone! The body is similar but not exactly the same. I was able to transfer the SIM and SD cards successfully and my contacts have lots of names I recognise. It is a newer, faster phone – not top of the range – but new and fast for me. But this isn’t a resurrection by any stretch of the imagination because as I was leaving the store I was reminded that I should return in about 10 months to talk about my SIM only contract and … an upgrade! Before I had even made my first phone call, family-chat, tweet, text, or internet search my phone was already ‘old’ and not exactly obsolete but the end was potentially in sight.
I’m learning how my new phone works. I’ve downloaded things I use (eg. the programme our family uses to talk to each other, programmes that link me to the ubiquitous cloud, even the Bible). The phone seems to have a life of its own too and little pop up notices are asking me whether I want to do this or that. But the biggest difference so far is amnesia – the phone’s (I can’t remember mine)! That’s what I’m calling it anyway because not all the old contact numbers are in the phone. (I’ve no idea why.) I noticed this when I dialled home and the home number didn’t exist! So the phone and I are becoming acquainted and I am teaching it new people to reach while wondering whom I have forgotten! Hmmm …
Today – Easter Sunday – also known as the Resurrection of Our Lord – is not like my new phone! It isn’t like a chick bursting out of an egg. It isn’t like a butterfly emerging from a chrysalis. It is not like a programme upgrade. Nor is it close to the cycle of seasons whereby winter gives way to spring. The resurrection isn’t a literary event akin to being moved by literature and incorporating what is meaningful for you into your life. And the resurrection definitely isn’t like our genes being passed from one generation to the next. All these are approximations – worldly examples – reflecting the movement from death to life or of some sort of continuance after death.
The resurrection, however, of Jesus is unique. Its existence in this world points to another reality beyond this world, beyond this universe. That is why philosophically the resurrection is such a problem for many in the world. The resurrection is beyond science which can only take us so far within this universe. The resurrection of Jesus challenges everything in this world because while we are aware of generations and new life, we are also very much aware of death.
The resurrection of Jesus thus challenges to the core our knowledge and ‘feel’ of the world – and of our existence. That is why the world says again and again, ‘Prove it’. But that very question is asking to bring the resurrection into our universe – make it part of this world – when its very nature says otherwise. The resurrection is also challenged because it creates ‘docile sheep’ who can be exploited because there is a better life elsewhere (think Marx). That may be the case – and such exploitation shouldn’t be – but such a response to the resurrection doesn’t nullify the resurrection itself.
The resurrection of Jesus is a this-world event which points to another world – so does Christmas and miracles but to a lesser degree. The message from Jesus is that death’s power has been defeated. His presence is believed because the world can’t prove that Jesus is still in the tomb and there are generations of people since that crucifixion who have been saying, ‘Christ is risen! He is risen indeed!’. (And that’s no April Fool!) GS