Anyone who gives the Resurrection any thought at all is surely prompted to start asking questions. Depending on your starting point the questions will vary – but I’d hazard a guess that most of them will start with the word ‘why?’.
I fear that the church in this country tends to answer questions about ‘how’ – how did it happen; how can you be sure? Many Easter sermons will focus on the historical facts of the event. Now I think there is a place for that, but not in an Easter sermon. For me, the key issue isn’t the historical accuracy, but rather what does the Resurrection mean.
If the end of the Jesus story is the cross, then all we are left with is some radical ethical teaching and some miracles. But at the Resurrection – and beyond it – we are offered amazing hope. The hope that lets us dream and have visions that the imbalances in our lives and our world can be rectified and harmony can be restored. It’s the hope that through reconciliation with God we can be empowered to transform ourselves and our society.
I also think that in shifting the emphasis we can learn – from postmodernity – that questions are OK; that people can live with ambiguity and uncertainty. And if we can learn this, then we will be better placed to walk beside others on their spiritual journey, gently answering their questions, honestly acknowledging where we don’t know things; having a meaningful conversation rather than being dogmatic. In fact, as I write this I have the image of the risen Jesus walking to Emmaus. Too often, I fear, we drive people away by propounding absolute certainty, without leaving room for doubt and exploration. The disciples on the road to Emmaus came to the right conclusion after a time – maybe we could learn to let others complete their journeys, but with appropriate help from us.
Finally, the picture that I’ve posted is a sculpture by Lyn Constable Maxwell – thanks to Jim at Living Wittily from bringing it to my attention. Anyway, maybe to really understand the Resurrection fully we need to stand back and see the cross in perspective – and open our arms to others and our minds to the possibilities that hope can bring.