The day of resurrection!
Earth, tell it out abroad;
the Passover of gladness,
the Passover of God.
From death to life eternal,
from earth unto the sky,
our Christ hath brought us over,
with hymns of victory.
Today is the day that either makes fools of us believers or that reveals the reality of our life in God. Either the resurrection was, as Bishop David Jenkins famously said, ‘more than a conjuring trick with bones’ (he was, of course, infamously misquoted as saying ‘merely a conjuring trick with bones’), or it was just a resuscitation, not a resurrection?
People have been resuscitated before — think of Jairus’s daughter and Lazarus, both raised back to life by Jesus — and there are many more stories across the faiths and traditions of the dead being miraculously brought back to life. The persons so raised presumably lived out their earthly lives and then died a second time, for good.
The resurrection was something else, an unprecedented event that, if true, changed the basis of our relationship with God, with other people and with the rest of creation. It makes possible the seemingly fanciful teachings of Jesus, as when he states that if his followers had even a little faith they could move mountains and perform miracles greater than they have seen him perform.
If the resurrection is what we believe it to be, then the risen Christ ushers us into a new kind of existence, a positioning in eternity within the life of Trinity, with all the power of the Divine available to us now. This is what Saint Paul believed and what he attempted to express in his great charter of emancipation in Romans chapter 8: ‘If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will give life to your mortal bodies also through his Spirit which dwells in you.’ Paul was so convinced of the transformative effect of the resurrection that he repeatedly insisted that those who were in Christ were tantamount to being a ‘new creation,’ people who would be able to express in their lives the very nature of God.
The resurrection blows out the walls, the floors and the ceilings of our understanding of our own spiritual identity. What we do with open access to the Holy Spirit is up to us. It becomes a question of how much truth can we bear? How much life can we live? How much love can we take? How much do we trust the God who explodes our limited perceptions of who we are and what life is all about?
This Easter my prayer is that we will all be given the courage to open ourselves more to the infinite God, whose love we know and whose face we have seen in the man who resolutely climbed the hill to Golgotha.
Now let the heavens be joyful!
Let earth the song begin!
Let the round world keep triumph,
and all that is therein!
Let all things seen and unseen
their notes in gladness blend,
for Christ the Lord hath risen,
our joy that hath no end.