Resurrection requires running.
The women on Easter morn, illustrate this. Why initially they approach Jesus’ tomb slow and methodical; but in no time, the women are rapid and unguarded.
We know this by the pace they take. Why, initially, at the outset of Easter, the women walk toward the tomb (Matthew 28:1). But as the Easter progresses — and resurrection becomes a reality — the women run from the tomb (Matthew 28:8). And “… so the women hurried away from the tomb — afraid but filled with joy — and ran to tell (Jesus’) disciples …” (Matthew 28:8). But there’s more: Upon hearing the prospect of resurrection from the women — Luke 24:, 12 tells us – “… Peter … got up and ran to the tomb …” (Luke 24:12) — as well.
We need to run at Easter too, demonstrating a similar abandon for God. For it’s not enough to just “consider resurrection,” we must relinquish all to the resurrection, believing there’s only one prospect for hope and joy: abandoning all to the risen Christ.
In other words: Put all your eggs in one basket, God’s basket! Asking in the words of Frederick Buechner “a terrible question.”
“Is the truth beyond all truths, beyond the stars, just this: that to live without (Christ) is the real death, that to die with (Christ) the only life?”
To die with Christ is the only life, for only by dying with Christ, giving all to Christ, do we have any hope of rising with Christ, of knowing an elevated life. Such reality is what Michael Gorman calls, cruciformity: life sacrificed to the Savior, melted, and molded to conform to Him. Thus, we must die, before we die, giving all to God, in Christ.
C.S. Lewis spoke in such terms, describing his own turning to Jesus. “… Total surrender, the absolute leap in the dark, were demanded ... In the Trinity Term of 1929 I gave in, and admitted that God was God, and knelt and prayed: perhaps, that night, the most dejected and reluctant convert in all England ... ”
But we can be sure: Cruciformity is not in vain. As Paul notes: “Here is a trustworthy saying: ‘If we die with him, we will also live with him. If we endure, we will also reign with him …” (1 Timothy 2:11+12).
For as Leonard Sweet reminds us, Jesus is “La Via, La Veritas, La Vita” — way, truth, life — showing up in the most unexpected, resurrecting ways.
As Rich Mouw concluded his career as the President of Fuller Seminary, he accented God’s unexpected, resurrecting presence, using a reoccurring phrase: “It’s Him Again.”
In Agatha Christie’s Miss Marple, there’s a series of murders in the village, and the local constable looks at the fourth of those murders and says there is no connection between this one and the previous murders — there just happened to have been several unrelated homicides within a single month. But Miss Marple, noticing something hanging on the wall and remembering something the butler said, points out, “No, no, no, it’s him again.”
Our growth in Christ means learning to read the clues in the manner of Miss Marple, and even more importantly in the manner of God’s people in God’s redemptive story. The last time the unbelieving world saw Jesus of Nazareth, he was hanging dead and defeated on a Roman cross. But for those of us who encounter that scene with the eyes and ears of faith we say, “No, no, no, it’s him again.” (For resurrection day comes.) Many of you face uncertainties, difficulties, trials, and challenges, but I hope you experience a reassuring presence, and sensing that presence, (will be able to say) in deep places of your being, “It’s him again.”
At Easter, we say: “It’s Him Again.” For at Easter, a “dead man walks” through worries, concerns, needs, “game over” realities, and makes “a wild shot,” sending history into overtime, saving everything.
If we let Him.
This week resurrection showed up in ruins. First, in the “ruined” career of Tiger Woods, as his Master’s “comeback” shocked even jaded observers. And, then, secondly, in the “ruined” edifice of Notre Dame Cathedral, as the Cathedral appears capable of new life, despite early predictions of complete demise.
The Notre Dame resurrection-prospect is especially striking. Why the fire that struck that edifice was a terrifying fire, appearing to engulf everything, yet, the “heart and soul” of the cathedral seems certain to “rise again,” or in Latin, to know “Resurgam!” For as historian Tom Holland tweeted after the fire: “A building like Notre Dame attests to our yearning as beings who (are) born and die — to defy the inexorability of what the Romans termed the ‘saeculum,’ the limits of mortal memory.”
Easter defies moral memory — if — we “sell out” to Jesus, putting all our eggs in God’s basket. For comeback does occur, a dead man does walk — into every mystery, every malady, saying: Do not be afraid. For I am risen, just as I said I would.
And so “run” at Easter! For comeback is possible, despite catastrophe, “Resurgam” is plausible, despite ruin. For Christ is risen! Christ is risen, indeed!
Paul Mundey is Moderator-Elect of the Church of the Brethren. In 2016-2017 he was a Visiting Scholar at Princeton Theological Seminary, after completing a 20-year pastorate at the Frederick Church of the Brethren in Frederick. Before serving at Frederick, Paul was on the national staff of the Church of the Brethren. Paul is married to Robin Risser, and they have two children, Sarah and Peter, along with an energetic grandson, John.