A Word to the Spiritual Seekers- The Resurrection
As the first glow of dawn tinged the eastern sky, the women, according to the accounts, gather up their spices and ointments to carry out the time honoured ritual of anointing the body of one who had recently died.
As they entered the Garden in the dim grey light of approaching day, the tomb where Jesus lay must have looked dark and threatening. They hadn’t thought about the huge stone covering the opening. But now they wondered, “who will roll the stone away for us?” Then, as they approached, they found to their amazement that the stone was already moved and the gaping entrance met them with an eerie blackness that caused them to pause.
Upon mustering their courage and looking in, they discovered that the tomb was empty! However, instead of the body of Jesus they saw . . . What did they see? The accounts differ. Like any good story, it grew with the telling; from a man clothed in white, to an angel, to two men in shining apparel, and finally two angels.
It’s a marvellous story, but just what happened on that first Easter morn is quite elusive. Indeed, a sizable contingent of scholars believe it to be just that, a story. But a story with a purpose. The writers of the gospels wanted to make clear that the Jesus who had been cruelly put to death on a cross was somehow alive and with them.
Paul, the earliest writer, makes no reference to an empty tomb. Yet his whole gospel is based on a risen Christ. Neither does Paul speak of an actual physical body. He affirms, in the fifteenth chapter of I Corinthians, that it was a spiritual body. And the Christ he met on the Damascus road was a mystical presence, unseen by the others with him.
Here is a classic case showing that “truth crushed to the earth will rise again.” I don’t think there is anything supernatural about Jesus’ resurrection. It is not surprising that the presence of a person of his statue and quality would be felt after his death. And his appearances may have much to say about the Mystery of the beyond and how the psyche works. Our presence, I believe, stays alive in the Universe is some way. But I wouldn’t be too certain about what form it takes, or whether we are personally aware of it or not.
Resurrection is simply a fact of life. And it has to do with much more than what happens after death. Most of us know that in the course of our lives there are deaths and resurrections. When something has died for us a new reality may became part of our life.
The major resurrection of Easter is the coming alive of nature. We acknowledge this by celebrating Easter as a “moveable feast.” We know the very probable date of Jesus’ death but we celebrate it the first week-end after the spring solstice. It was a nature celebration long before it was a Christian celebration. Bunnies and Easter eggs are appropriate, seeing that bunnies have a reputations for being exceedingly procreative!
Resurrection happens in the course of history. Ideas, ways of thinking, accepted understandings are born, live for a time, then fade and die.
I’m thinking of our recent sojourn with Gretta Vosper and Progressive Christianity. Her message is that the theistic image of God is no more. It has died. From this death comes a resurrection. As we say farewell to a way of thinking that was alive for many centuries, we grieve. Then we move on.
And we discover a whole array of ways of understanding the Mystery of it all. A yearning for spiritual depth and connection has sprung up around the world, in every tradition, clime and culture. With the advent of a quantum universe, science is giving us new and deep insights. We are becoming aware of the great contributions of other religions. The mystics and those who explore the depths of mind and psyche take on new meaning. We know anew that our primary story is that we are children of the Universe.
We live in exciting times. May the resurrections of our time be alive in you.