I’m writing this less than 48 hours after last Sunday’s service – after preaching on the ‘resurrection reality’ as seen in John turning around to see Jesus standing among the lamp stands holding the seven stars in his hand. Trying to understand Jesus (and God) for me is like trying pin down mercury – there seems to be an ungraspable quality here – Jesus is truly human and truly God; Baptism is water and the Word; when Jesus died on the cross yes, we can also say God died (and yet he didn’t), and so on. Last week I said that the mystery doesn’t negate the truth. And I believe that too. Still I found myself – someone who tends to forget his sermons once preached – recalling it again and again – ‘the resurrection reality’, ‘the resurrection reality’ – Je-sus is with his church – Jesus comforts individual Christians – precisely because I encountered and heard about and thought about so many situa-tions when the opposite seems the case.
There were people in chronic pain; people grieving not the death of the elderly (sad but understandable) but the death of the young; while Easter is a time for bap-tisms and confirmations, how many baptised and con-firmed people didn’t really give Jesus much of a thought over Easter? Increasingly Christian parents are worrying – is that too strong? – concerned that their children – brought up in the Faith – are not fol-lowing Jesus. ‘What did we do wrong? Were we too lenient? Were we too strict?’ And then there is the split thinking that can happen – people articulating that they know what Jesus has done for them and how Jesus wants them to live but … there’s always a ‘but’ … ‘Not me!’ (for some reason – and of course, they’re always very good reasons) and so the dichotomy continues and knowledge simply doesn’t translate into anything other than talk (which are really excuses for not following Je-sus in one’s behaviour). So we find Christians slack in so many ways – sulking and not forgiving (I wonder whether Christianity almost has a monopoly on passive aggressive behaviour?!) or excusing their pet sins or not really resisting temptation and, sadly, much more.
Where is the resurrection reality? Where indeed? Am I just thinking about Thomas during the week after the disciples told him that they’d seen the Lord? Am I just concentrating on imaginary lame people in the Temple precincts (there must have been some I reason) who just get to watch the healed man ‘walking and leaping and praising God’ (Acts 5:8)? Am I just being morose? (Not enough chocolate?!) What is the point of a ‘resurrection reality’ if ‘reality’ goes on and doesn’t change?
Many spiritual problems exist precisely because we demand change – usually in others – less in ourselves, I suspect. And yet Jesus’ resurrection is real and true and does affect people. It’s the old faith and works situation. Faith alone saves … but faith is never alone! (See James 2:14-26.)
And then I remember Irene. She was an elderly lady whom I visited as a Vicar for a long time. Irene was possibly the first person to teach me how to die. ‘We’re all sinners, George. You won-der whether I ask God ‘Why me?!’ Silly boy! Why not me?! God loves me and Jesus is with me.’ And Irene pointed me back to Jesus.
I suppose that’s it isn’t it – the resurrection reality? It all starts with words. — GS