Posts Tagged ‘resurrection’

Out of the Darkness; The Poetic Vision of Resurrection

April 22, 2019

April 21, 2019

Out of the Darkness

 

It was sometime in 1990, I am not sure of the exact date. I think probably late in the year, my grandma on my mom’s side was prone to strokes late in her life. I had decided to begin the process toward ordained ministry we visited grandma in the nursing facility in Douglass, KS. By this time the strokes had taken their toll and grandma was rendered speechless, literally, she could not speak. Along with that she had become so hard of hearing that she was unable to hear anything shared with her as well. To facilitate that part of her life she had a small chalkboard in her room that we could write in hopes that she could at least read them and have some sense of what we were trying to convey, though as memory serves, I am not sure she had the faculties to communicate that ability or not.

What I remember is a rather serene but un-acknowledging facial expression as she sat in the chair in her room. I remember wanting to share with her my decision to enter into the ministry but of course unable to tell if she knew what I was trying to communicate or even that she recognized and knew who I was. I wondered then whether it was a frustrating and difficult place for her, without the ability to share, to speak, to hear, caught in a body that seemed to be a prison, at least from my perspective. I wondered if she was afraid or if she had the capacity for fear, her face certainly showed no sign of stress or struggle. It was a difficult place to be that day.

We have been on a Lenten Journey in the Labyrinth. A journey of twists and turns, of introspection and searching, accompanied by the Divine Presence whose love knows no bounds. And yet, even then, as we ponder this last week of celebration, the turning of the crowd, the final meal, the garden, the betrayal, the trial, and finally death… this week has encompassed the length and breadth of the journey of life, the highs and lows, the joys and sorrows, the hopes and the despair and so, there can be a good number of things that entomb us in fear.

We have been on a journey this season of Lent as we considered things that hold us, and cause us fear. What is it that holds us in fear? Fear is an incarcerating emotion. Fear can lock us down, lock us away, and keep us separate and separated from one another. Fear can be filled with anger, anxiety, dread, and drive us to isolation and hatred. Some of us have experienced more fear, isolation, and internal imprisonment than others. There are those wondering where the next meal is coming from or deciding between filling the prescription or paying the electric bill. There are perhaps those of us gathered here today who are caught between doing what is right and doing what is popular with the least amount of risk. There are perhaps those of us here today that struggle with dogma’s and doctrines of the church; atonement, communion, baptism, the very character of God, authority of scripture, the church in general, even…dare I say….  Resurrection? and are fearful of expressing doubts and asking questions because of past experience…or perhaps these things no longer hold meaning for us and we are fearful of what that means or if there are others like us who are asking the same questions and having the same doubts.

There are perhaps those of us here this morning who long for justice, who have been abused, condemned, judged, rejected, turned away from churches, homes, family, and friends because of sexual orientation, gender, immigration status, age, race, or the need for reproductive care. Perhaps there are those of us who long to speak up for justice and what is right but also fear abuse, rejection, judgment, and condemnation. Or maybe we just fear change. Maybe we are too comfortable with what we used to be, what we are, where we are and we would just as soon stay in this contented state of mind and not rock the boat?

But why do we fear… why do we fear embracing our full humanity… the full Human Being, Wisdom’s Child, as Walter Wink refers to Jesus and us with Jesus reflected in us he too asks the question of why in his book “The Human Being” “Why, if God is trying to incarnate in me through Wisdom’s Child. Do I resist? Can I repudiate the current world order and experience what Paul called “the glorious liberty of the children of God?”[i]

For me, the “Why” is because it is fear laden work…risky!  And yet we recognize stepping beyond these fear laden issues and attitudes can lead to isolation and rejection.  It is fear burdened work to break free of the tomb, to step through the bars of our fear-filled cells into the light of freedom, equality, and justice for all. But the task, I believe, is worth the risk, it is worth the struggle.

We began this Lenten journey in ashes. Confronting the things that hold us in fear, imprisoned, entombed, and lay them to waste…to burn them away, to let go, and journey into a Lent of confronting our fears and embracing what we have come for today… Awakening! New Life! After all that is why we have come here this morning is it not? To know the struggles of Lent, the pain, and suffering of Holy Week are not the last word?

We have come here, to the tomb, with the women this morning. And discovered there is something afoot… something has changed…something is different… there is an awe-some-ness to the morning …we have encountered Resurrection!

So, what is Resurrection? Oh, I know we have all read the stories we have in our scriptures.  Jesus died and then this morning we celebrate his being raised from the dead. However, what does it all mean? Do we know what it meant then?  Do we know what it means for us now?

There is mystery in the texts that tell the story of Jesus’ resurrection… none of the four gospels agree as to exactly what happened. Mark, the earliest of the gospels written in the canon of scripture and its oldest ending sees no risen Jesus, the women run from the tomb and say nothing to anyone. Matthew and Luke do not agree on who was there. Luke says the “men” don’t believe the women and their idle tale… John has a different take on women… having Mary be the first preacher of the gospel… not a small doctrinal point.

It is obvious, at least to me, resurrection is not about the creedal in the flesh resuscitation of Jesus that we have for so long made it into. So, if that is the case, what is resurrection? For the ancients…. And for us? 

Robin Meyers in his book “Saving Jesus from the Church,” says this, “Is it possible to rise from the dead without one’s body, and if so, how would this be verified? Is Easter a molecular event or a spiritual one?[ii]

Rudolph Bultmann – “Jesus rose into the kerygma – that is, in to the faith of the first believers. In other words, the conviction of the followers of Jesus that he was still with them was itself the resurrection. What can be known with certainty is that the Jesus movement in Judea did not cease after the execution of its leader under Pontius Pilate – but expanded! As a Pharisee, Paul believed in the resurrection of the dead, and certainly believed that Jesus had been raised. But the question Paul goes on to ask is, “With what kind of body do they come?”  “What is sown is perishable, what is raised in imperishable … it is sown a physical body, it is raised a spiritual body. Bultmann says, What I am saying, is this: Whatever sort of vision Paul claims to have seen on the road to Damascus, it had nothing to do with a body.”[iii]

Does this mean we no longer need the resurrection? Does this mean we no longer embrace or include resurrection in our faith, in our doctrines, or relationships? By no means!

Bernard Brandon Scott, in his book “The Trouble with Resurrection” says of the story as it emerged among the ancients and written down… “Israel being raised up in the Hebrew scriptures was always Corporate resurrection. Paul’s understanding of resurrection was as part of community the body of Christ, the church, the community of faith… resurrected… we are resurrected… We Are Risen! Together![iv]

However, for Scott it is even more broad, more encompassing than this as he writes, this metaphor applied to the people of Israel as a corporate raising up, Paul’s alluding to the Body (pointing) of Christ being raised up…“This metaphorical system,” he writes, “also has overtones of God as creator who will restore creation.” Resurrection is fully about the resurrecting of all creation… on such a day as this Resurrection Sunday… this Earth Day! Scott goes on to say…“The power of fiction – fiction does not mean untrue or unreal but describes that which is powerfully imagined and remembered. Fiction is a powerful way of unmasking truth or reality. [it] reminds us of the power of scenario – resurrection is not “A” moment but a story. Its truth is not in its literalness, but its POETIC VISION. The trouble with resurrection is that we have literalized, narrowed, and constricted it, turned it into a creedal belief, and in the process forfeited its great claim and hope.” We keep waiting … And still God does not act. Ironically it is in precisely this situation that we need the hope of resurrection. Crucifixion is not the end, Empire did not win, cannot win. God’s justice is always coming to life; the Kindom of God is like … In the end we are [brought] back to faithfulness and a world that should be.”[v]

So, with this there are a multitude of ways Resurrection, even the resurrection of Jesus on this Easter morning, can be understood… no clearer today than it was in the various stories 2000 years ago. But as Marcus Borg, theologian, author and teacher so appropriately says…. “Believe what you want about the resurrection, believe what you want about how, why, when, the Christ rose from the dead…
but what difference does it make in your life today, how does it fill your faith today, how does it fuel you to make this world a better, more just, compassionate, kind, and humble world….  Here and now?[vi]

Maybe one of the problems with resurrection is we have left it at the empty tomb some 2000 years ago! We have walked away from the tomb and are still waiting for God to “do something else!”   Still trying to prove it happened…Still being caught up in the minute details of the telling and missing the point, when resurrection is still happening. It is happening all around us. Like the Bishop in Diana Butler Bass’s book “Christianity After Religion” said when asked if he believed in the resurrection, “Believe in it?” he said, “I’ve seen it too many times not to!” [vii]

It was a difficult time and space in my grandma’s room that day… we hoped we had conveyed our love in ways she had understood…  and as we rose to leave…  across her lips came one simple word, the only word she had spoken in the time we had been there…. “Kent,” she said.  “Kent.”  And I am here to tell you…  that was resurrection…   and the story goes on, every year, every week, every day, every moment…

Resurrection is the story of our faith, however, it is more than that, it is the story of God, it is the story of Creation… all around us in every breath of life, resurrection/new life…Resurrection is about a new thing… about Justice…about participating in the Kindom, it is happening all around us, every moment if we are mindful and awake to it! We are not uninterested, uninvolved onlookers…Resurrection is an ever evolving happening! We are invited into the Resurrection story to be an active part of its Poetic Vision through our awareness and in our participation.

Every time one comes home after a long absence…
That’s the Poetic Vision of Resurrection!

Every time the treatment, the care, the surgery gives a second chance….
That’s the Poetic Vision Resurrection!

Every time we stand at the grave of a loved one and believe there is something more…
That’s the Poetic Vision of Resurrection!

When 15 year old Greta Thunberg speaks at the Climate Summit and tells leaders of the world, “Change is coming whether you like it or not!”

Every time a young person stands up to gun violence and says, “No More!”

Every time a confirmation class stands and says, “Not until the whole church is open to EVERYONE! That’s the Poetic Vision of Resurrection!

Every time a troubled soul encounters a community of faith and God and turns their life around…
That’s the Poetic Vision of Resurrection!

Every time an LGBTQIA youth is embraced by family, community, the church fully and chooses life and authenticity over ending it all..
That’s the Poetic Vision of Resurrection!

Every time a woman stands up and says “Me Too” and is believed

Every time those in need find affordable healthcare…

Every time the immigrant finds sanctuary…

Every time policies are passed to create inspections for safe, livable, and affordable housing for the most vulnerable…

Every time the least of these… the outcast, discriminated against, the marginalized, the ignored, the oppressed, the hated, the turned away…. Are fully embraced by the church…
That’s The Poetic Vision of Resurrection!

Every time the world tells us we are foolish and we should fear and someone stands up and says, “NO!”

Every time we see, or are, a glimmer of hope in a fear laden world…

Every time the church stands up against the powers that be and says, “Enough is enough! We will not be moved!!”

That’s the Poetic Vision of Resurrection!

Every time Christian, Jew, Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu, persons of all religious expression or no religious expression come together and  ground themselves in love and understanding for one another and the common good of all…

Every time the Power of Love Shows up and conquers fear…
That’s the Poetic Vision of Resurrection!

Word out of Silence, Light out of Darkness, Blossom out of Seed, LIFE out of Death, Love out of Hate!

Fear and isolation, exclusion, hatred, bigotry, injustice… do not have the last word! Left behind like old used rags in the empty tomb!  it is Love that has the last word,

We are the church and until hate and bigotry, exclusion and injustice, hunger and poverty, racism, sexism, homophobia, and the most egregious of theological malpractice grounded in fear laden dogma and doctrine, is reduced to ashes we will continue to rise.

We are the church… and we are RISEN to participate in making justice happen until it rolls down like waters and an ever-flowing stream.

We are the church! And the church needs to recapture the Poetic Vision of a constant, continual, evolving life of resurrection. To continue calling itself back to life, continually rising again, rebirthing itself into new life…into the beloved community of All!

Resurrection is Resistance!
Resurrection is Practice!
Resurrection is Love!
Resurrection is
THE Way of Life!

And for we who gather on this hope filled, Life infused, Grace immersed Day. Even on this day… as the senseless bombings in Sri Lanka bring back fresh memories of The Christ Church Mosque Shooting, the Tree of Life Synagogue Shooting, school shootings and humanity’s addiction to weapons and violence… We will not fear those who wield fear, bigotry, and religion like a weapon…We will not fear the powers that be and an empire who says, we should not even risk the journey! We Will Carry On the Vision!

We gather as a people of the Resurrection and say, “No!”  because we know…  Love. True Love. Never. Dies. Love will always rise up out of the darkness!  For Wisdom’s Child, Jesus…We… Are Risen…. We are Risen Indeed! This IS So! Amen.

 

[i] Wink, Walter, (2002). The Human Being, Jesus and the Enigma of the Son of the Man. Fortress Press, Minneapolis, MN.

[ii] Meyers, Robin R. (2009). Saving Jesus from the Church, How to Stop Worshipping Christ and Start Following Jesus. Harper One, New York, NY

[iii] Scott, Bernard Brandon, (2010). The Trouble with Resurrection, From Paul to the Fourth Gospel. Polebridge Press, Salem OR

[iv] Scott, Bernard Brandon, (2010). The Trouble with Resurrection, From Paul to the Fourth Gospel. Polebridge Press, Salem OR

[v] Scott, Bernard Brandon, (2010). The Trouble with Resurrection, From Paul to the Fourth Gospel. Polebridge Press, Salem OR

[vi] Borg, Marcus J., (2003). The Heart of Christianity, Rediscovering a Life of Faith. Harper Collins, San Francisco, CA

[vii] Bass, Diana Butler, (2012). Christianity After Religion, The End of Church and the Birth of a New Spiritual Awakening, Harper Collins, New York, NY

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Maybe the Church is Dead

May 20, 2018

Today is the Sunday in the Liturgical Season of the church when we celebrate Pentecost. Some say this is the Birthday of the Church. Some of us recall the story from the book of Acts about the Disciples gathered in a room and there is a sound like a rushing wind. And the Spirit like tongues of fire appear and rest on the heads of those gathered and they begin to speak in various languages. When the people outside hear all the commotion and speaking they are in wonder of what is going on and some of the crowd accuse the Disciples of being drunk. And Peter stands up and proclaims they are indeed not drunk but inspired by the Spirit to remind the people God is still at work, young and old, male and female, will prophesy and bring the good news of God’s love and justice to the world through this event.  It is a Birthday Party! The church is being born! Break out the balloons, the wine, the party hats, the cake! Let’s have a party! A 2000-year-old birthday party.

But, then I wonder…as I look across the expanse of the Church and its presence and image in the world….

Is the church too tired? Is the church too worn out? Has the church finally become irrelevant, out of touch, stuck in its stale and ineffectual dogmas and doctrines, stuck on life support and no one has the ability, courage, or compassion to pull the plug? I hear the voices of some colleagues and others who say what the church needs is an old-fashioned revival… we need to get back to the way things used to be, back when the church was new and fresh and just getting started when preachers and lay folks were on fire with the spirit like that first Pentecost and the sounds of rushing winds and the vision of flames and the sound of diverse languages were the norm… we need a dose of the old-time religion. The problem with that is those who often long for, yearn for, the way things used to be… the ones who long for a revival of the church and a fresh outpouring of the Spirit will often tell you exactly what that Spirit will look like and exactly where it will take us, which, is not necessarily something new…

But rather perhaps it just keeps the church on life support longer as we tell it what it should say and do and be. The church longs for the way things were, in the heyday, in the grand old days, in the good old days, when we knew exactly what we believed, how we were to behave, what we were to do… life and faith were simplistic… days when the cliché of “The Bible Says It, I Believe It, That Settles It,” was the mantra…back when we knew what to expect and didn’t have to think and feel so much…. Maybe that’s what we need to do, just we sit by the bedside of the church, listening to the hum of the systems, and wait for a miracle revival to bring it all back. But nothing seems to be happening and sometimes, sometimes, it even seems to be getting worse, more disconnected, unresponsive, more distant.

As I was pondering the church in this light it made me think of the movie some years ago… “The Sixth Sense” the story of a successful psychiatrist who is trying to help a young boy who sees ghosts, but the psychiatrist’s life seems disconnected, his family distant and unresponsive, there is just something not right, it feels like he is just going through the motions with not much success at anything, until the end, when he discovers… he is dead, he just didn’t know it.

And I wondered, maybe for all intents and purposes, the church is dead, it just doesn’t know it yet. Today we celebrate the birthday of the church, but I wonder, maybe it is too late?

You have probably noticed by now, I did not use the passage from Acts and the traditional reading for Pentecost Sunday today. I used the Hebrew Scripture reading for this Sunday, the reading from Ezekiel and the valley of the dry bones. I used it because of the stark image of death, pondering perhaps, is this where the church is today? Dead, Dry, Piled Up, Deserted, Unknowingly Gone, Irrelevant?  I used this reading because it is a national story, it is a national prophecy. It is the story of not individual faith, but of a people, and as I ponder the image of the dry bones of the people of Israel for Ezekiel I have to ask myself, is the church dead and it just doesn’t know it yet.

The Church is certainly tired. The Church is certainly Tattered. And as I look out across the landscape of the church in our nation I have to consider the church is dead.

The Church is dead when it participates/remains silent in the demonization of the poor and the programs of social uplift helping feed and clothe God’s children.

The Church is dead when it participates/remains silent in the dehumanizing of immigrants and the separating of mothers and fathers from children through deportation and punishes children whose parents chose to escape torturous conditions.

The Church is dead when it claims it loves all and includes all and continues to deny LGBTQ persons full access in its life.

The Church is dead when it ignores the cries of those incarcerated unjustly and without recourse.

The church is dead when it refuses to stand for the full equality of women both within its institutions and in society.

The Church is dead when it categorically proclaims those who disagree with its doctrines and dogmas are destined for a hell of God’s choosing.

The Church is dead when it turns a blind eye/remains silent to the sins of its nation and leaders and buys into partisan politics.

The Church is dead when it does not speak up in defense of our school children because of its love of guns.

The Church is dead when it participates/remains silent, consciously and unconsciously in the evil of racism.

The Church is dead when it says everyone should only speak English when Pentecost is testimony against such things!

The Church is dead when it would rather split over who it can keep out rather than finding a place for everyone.

The Church is dead when it would rather cater to its membership than serve its community.

The Church is dead when it is more worried about how things have always been done rather than dreaming about how to embrace new ideas.

The Church is dead when it gives up on being the prophetic voice of change. The Church is dead when it would rather look back on the old dry bones of past ideas, past days, past preachers, past teachers, past unrealized dreams.

The Church is dead when it refuses to listen to new leadership, new innovations, new ways… the Church is dead when it is more focused on surviving than it is on thriving.

Maybe… the Church is Dead.

And then, sometimes things need to die before resurrection can happen…

And you know what? Says God to Ezekiel. God is in…The Church of Jesus is in…

The Prophecy Business…The Love Business…Is in the Resurrection Business!

Because … Love, True Love… Never Dies!

The Church is in the Resurrection business because that is what we do!

You can’t kill a church grounded in…

Steeped in… Saturated in… Immersed in… Dripping with… Oozing with… Wrapped up in… Inundated with… Besieged with…

LOVE… Pentecost is about the love of God for ALL persons! Pentecost is about bringing new life and insight to the world…

The Church is in the Pentecost business when it Lifts the poor and supports programs of social uplift…

The Church is in the Pentecost business when it stands with immigrants and their families…

The Church is in the Pentecost business when it speaks up in support of LGBTQ persons in the full life of the church and community.

The Church is in the Pentecost business when it disdains the unjust incarceration practices of its nation.

The Church is in the Pentecost business when it votes to support the FULL equality of women in the church and society.

The Church is in the Pentecost business when it Uses its prophetic voice to say love conquers any kind of hell that others may proclaim.

The Church is in the Pentecost business when it points out the sins and injustices of its nation and leaders.

The Church is in the Pentecost business when it puts the lives of our children before the agenda of violence!

The Church is in the Pentecost business when it condemns racism in ALL its forms!

The Church is in the Pentecost business when it opens its doors to ALL persons!

The Church is in the Pentecost business when it serves its neighborhoods and community.

The Church is in the Pentecost business when it embraces new understandings and ideas.

The Church is in the Pentecost business when it learns from its past but doesn’t live there.

The Church is in the Pentecost business when it finds its prophetic voice of Justice, Compassion, Welcome, Life, and Love!

The Church is in the Pentecost business when it is inspired by the Spirit to remind the people God is still at work and Love is the Way!

The Church or portions of it as we have known it…

The Church or portions of it as we know it…

May be in its last throes of death… or worse…

But, we are an Ezekiel Church!

Prophecy to these old dry Bones… says God.

Live… LiveLOVE

For it is the power of love that will renew and resurrect the best of what is to come…

This is So. This IS So!  Amen!

 

Questions are Welcome

March 21, 2016

I remember standing in the kitchen with my dad and mom when I asked the questions. I was probably about thirteen as I believe it was confirmation class that prompted the conversation with my dad/pastor/confirmation class teacher. Mom was fixing dinner and dad and I were have a discussion about Christianity and beliefs. I remember asking, “So if Jesus was raised from the dead physically and ascended into heaven, how can we speak of the belief he is always everywhere with us? And if he was raised spiritually and not bodily and the tomb was empty what did they do with his body?

I remember dad answering the question as any good critical theologian might answer such a question, “Those are really good questions son, what do you think?” Which simply prompted more conversation, seeking, questions, and searching, which of course is exactly what dad intended. He was always one who encouraged us to seek out our own path, not to believe something just because he did, but to study, question, consider and make sure what we believed was our own.

As we sat down at the table for dinner that evening I remember mom saying to me, “You know Kent, I believe there are just some things we do not know and perhaps are not even supposed to know; they are a mystery.”

In hindsight I think there is something to be said about the kind of faith environment in which I was raised. There is tremendous benefit in being encouraged to find one’s own understanding and belief structures, to be encouraged to question, doubt, wrestle, and critically practically look at the stories of our faith. I also believe there is benefit in realizing, once we study, question, doubt, wrestle, and critically practically look at the stories of our faith, to be able to say, “I don’t know.”

There are a lot of questions and wondering around our stories and scriptures. Even the story of Jesus’ resurrection differ depending on which gospel account we are reading, they don’t even agree on the details of that morning. I have long appreciated the words of Marcus Borg with regards to the stories of resurrection when he spoke of Jesus’ resurrection as believing what you want about the story, literal bodily resurrection, spiritual, metaphorical, but how does your belief transform you and help you make this world a better place in which to live? Likewise, the quote Diana Butler Bass shared from a “liberal bishop who was asked if he believed in the resurrection,” to which he replied, “Believe it? I’ve seen it too many times not to!”

I believe questions, doubts, wrestling, wondering, and being vulnerable enough to say “I don’t know” are crucial and indispensable qualities of a deep and abiding faith journey. And so, with all I know and with all I do not know, I am still able to cherish this Holy Week with all of its celebrations, questions, difficulties, suffering, betrayal, and darkness. I am still able to embrace all it holds and show up on Easter Sunday morning and celebrate and proclaim with all of us “He is Risen!”

Join us this Sunday at College Hill for our Easter Resurrection Sunday Celebration of Peace come to Life! It is one of the many ways we seek to be mindful of the Spirit and one another here at the Hill, where you are one of the community. Here where there is always an open door, a safe space, a warm welcome, and a place at the table. Not Your Ordinary Church. Until next week, God bless, and know you are never alone.

Peace and Light on Your Journey,
Pastor Kent

Remembering Easter

April 2, 2012

I think I mentioned some time back I was working on a personal journey writing, an extended journaling perhaps or a memoir. It is a personal writing and perhaps book bound if I ever get to that point, a reflective journey through my life and experience and how I have come to understand this path to the progressive theology and life I know and embrace.

I was writing a section on my experience of the days we lost my older brother to a tragic football accident when I was thirteen. The thing that struck me most about recalling those days was what I could not remember. There were huge gaps in my own memory only filled in by what I remember my family telling me about the days immediately preceding his death and the days directly following. I thought of all the memories I have of Chris and the things we did together, good memories and bad. We were typical brothers getting along with many good and fond memories as well as “fighting like brothers,” as my grandpa used to say.

I remember stories told by my mom and dad, my sister, and others who knew him well, even stories in my own mind that on one level or another I know are true and embellished. Sometimes it seems that the memory in my mind and the stories that have been shared over the years paints a picture of a perfect teenager at the age of fifteen when he died. Chris was an exceptionally talented young man, musically, athletically, and according to many of the stories I remember spiritually, and mature for his age. And at the same time I am very aware that he was fifteen, and there are no perfect fifteen year olds, in the sense of a model child who never did any wrong.

I am reminded of the cliché “absence makes the heart grow fonder,” which is often true; I also believe absence can fuel memories that can seem larger than life. That occurs, at least in part, because I want to remember just the good stuff that happened, but Chris and I were close enough to know neither one of us were angels and there were times we participated in less than angelic behavior …together. At his death it was opportunity to place him on a pedestal which I believe, at least to my recollection, we as a family and his closest friends were more than willing to do. Not that the stories do not contain truth, but sometimes I think if he were to come back, even he would have a hard time filling all the shoes we have put on him.

I mention this part of my journey as it is what came to mind as I try to read once again for the first time the telling of the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. As I ponder the stories we have sometimes I wonder about the telling and how time and fondness did and continues to have an effect on the telling. It is important to do the research to understand the time, place, social, and cultural environment the stories were written in as well as the original audience for whom the stories were written. Based on my own experience the stories cause me to wonder about the remembering of Jesus life years after his death finally being written down. Not that they do not contain truth, but how accurate they are and how much of them are statements of faith and life of the early community of believers as opposed to actual happenings, especially in terms of the resurrection story that we remember this next Sunday.

There are numerous resurrection stories and even more interpretations of the stories. There are those who believe the resurrection was a literal bodily resuscitation. There are those who believe Jesus did not really die but just appeared to have died. There are those who believe he was resurrected but it was a strange new body with special abilities. There are those who believe it was a spiritual resurrection and not bodily. Marcus Borg speaks of not a bodily resurrection but that the Disciples continued to experience the presence of Christ in a profound way. And those who look at the early followers as the body of Christ and this expression and community were raised up empowered by the Spirit.

Reading progressive theological language around the issue this statement appears most often, “Believe what you want about the resurrection, bodily, spiritually, presence, the community of faith, but how does it affect your life here and now, how does it shape your life and faith, does the story give you new life, what difference does it make in the way you treat your fellow human kind?”

I know the experience of my brother’s death and the remaining stories, be they entirely true or not, had and continues to have, a profound impact on who I am and on my own understanding of life, faith, and love, I know this is truth for me.

Here in lies the truth of the resurrection story in a progressive theological framework; does the story move you to love God and neighbor, does the story move you to act justly, kindly, and humbly?

I pray this week brings you hope in the midst of struggle, healing in the midst of brokenness, laughter and singing borne of joy, and moves you from death to life! Join us this Sunday as we celebrate Easter and New Life in and among us all!

It is one of the many ways we seek to be faithful to the Spirit and one another here at the Hill, where you are one of the family. Here where there is always an open door, a safe space, a warm welcome, and a place at the table.
Until next week, God bless, and know you are never alone.