Tag Archives: resurrection

Death? Yes. Resurrection? YES!

In the 1997 blockbuster film Titanic, Jack and Rose enjoy a fairy-tale romance aboard the giant ocean liner.  Disaster strikes when the unsinkable ship hits an iceberg and sinks and Jack drowns.  But in the film’s last scene, we see Jack and Rose, back to life, reunited on the ship’s grand staircase, as if the tragedy were but a bad dream.

Unless it’s the bad guys, it seems that Hollywood does not much like death.  It’s happier to just live on and on, immortal.

Which is what Jesus did not do.   He really died.  He did not just appear to die.  He did not just live on in the hearts and minds of his friends.  Nor did he have some “immortal soul” or  “divine spark” that endured after his body expired.  Jesus was really, truly, completely dead.

And then God turned the tables on death.  All four gospels, along with the Apostle Paul, affirm that Jesus was raised from the dead.  It’s the resurrection that stands at the heart of Christian faith, not some “immortality” of a soul that just goes on and on.

The truth of Jesus’s resurrection, though, takes a while to dawn on Jesus’s friends.  In our text for this Easter Sunday (John 20:1-18), Peter, the chief disciple, races to the open tomb, enters it, and sees grave clothes lying about.  But does not come out crying, “Jesus is alive!”  He just goes away.

The other disciple with Peter (possibly John) also sees the empty tomb.  Unlike Peter, he “believes,” but it is not clear what he believes.

And Mary Magdalene, perhaps Jesus’s closest friend, is so distraught with grief that the two angels in the empty tomb are only annoyances to her.  Even when she meets Jesus clothed as a gardener, she does not recognize him, and only pleads for her dear friend’s dead body to be returned.

If it’s hard for Hollywood to accept that death is really death, it was also hard for the dead Jesus’s followers to believe that he had been made alive.

But they finally do become convinced.  And then there’s no stopping them.  They go into the world with the audacious claim that, while death is—yes—real, Jesus’s resurrection is–YES!– also real.  More real, even, than death.

If we’re honest, we’ll admit that Hollywood has got it wrong.  Our experience tells us that life can be tragic, and that death is real.

And then, our faith assures us that we need not fear that unpleasant truth, because death is not the last word.  The last word belongs to God, and that word is resurrection.

He is risen!  Happy Easter.

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First thoughts

What is your most memorable breakfast?

I am not a breakfast person, but even I have a memorable breakfast story.  I remember cooking bacon in Waterton National Park at a remote camping site; Eugene had gone off for a hike.  Suddenly I heard a bear growling right behind me, and I whirled around with my knife in my hand!

To find…Eugene falling on the ground laughing.  A very memorable breakfast.  That was on our honeymoon…good thing I wasn’t faster with that knife!

This Sunday we are going to be exploring the story of a famous breakfast.  It’s the story of Jesus making a barbeque breakfast on the beach for the disciples.  It’s the first breakfast he shares with them after the resurrection…as far as we know it’s the only breakfast he shares with them after the resurrection.  In fact, it’s the only breakfast with Jesus that I can think of being described in scripture!  (let me know if you can think of one!)

Why would Jesus be rustling up breakfast?  What was this meeting on the beach all about?  One thing we know for sure, it’s a breakfast the disciples never forgot.

Years ago I gave out a little book of table graces, and this week’s prayer is the shortest one from that collection (I always think of Robert Friesen when I say it, he told me it was his  favourite prayer):

For bacon, eggs, and buttered toast, 
Praise Father, Son and Holy Ghost.

 

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Who knows

The disciples weren`t expecting Jesus to rise again. They had given up hope. All their hopes and dreams for Jesus were buried in a tomb. The resurrection changed all that. When Jesus came back to them, he was different. He didn`t live with them anymore in the same way. He came and went. They could touch him and he could eat, but there was something different about his body. They didn`t always recognize him, even when they spoke with him.

Because of Easter, we all hope for resurrection. We know that when we die, God will bring us into a new life. We don`t know what that life will be like…it will probably be very different from anything we can imagine!

But God also brings new life to us in areas of our lives where we are dead. You know those parts. That part of you that cannot resist an addiction…no matter how you try. You have given up hope of ever being able to control that compulsion. Or maybe there`s a relationship that`s dead. You`ve nailed the coffin shut, and it`s Closure with a capital C. Or maybe it`s your relationship with God that seems dead. The early dreams you had of closeness to God seem unattainable, and you are resigned to living in a dark space, where once you hoped to walk in the light of God`s presence.

In all these dark places, God can bring new life in ways that will shock and surprise us. God can give you the courage to admit you have an addiction, and start a new life relying on the help of God, of counsellors, of family and friends. You may not recognize yourself, you could change that much. Maybe God will renew a relationship in a form you never expected. It might surprise you that something you thought was so dead could continue to bring good things into your life for years to come. Or maybe God will call you to a deeper spirituality through a difficult experience. You would never voluntarily choose to go through that experience, but in the end you see how valuable it was. Who knows how God can bring new life to you this year…

This week`s prayer: God of new life, put your new life in me.

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Exploring the meaning of Jesus’ death and resurrection (guest post by Stephanie Dueck)

Jesus died and rose again. What does this mean for you? We hear these words so much that sometimes they can lose their meaning. What do these words mean for each of us now, in the place we are at in life?

Let’s ponder the meaning. With Christ’s resurrection we are given eternal life, and freedom from sin and death. Eternal life is about living with Christ forever. It means that we are never alone. We have a constant companion. We may not have lived at the same time as Jesus, but we can know that he experienced many of the same struggles that we face. He was human as much as we are human, but he was also divine. Jesus is compassionate with us, and he knows what being human is all about! God sent Jesus and the Holy Spirit to live among us. We truly worship the one God who is unquestionably a God-with-us.

Maybe the problem is that we know this in our minds, but not in our hearts. Henri Nouwen, a spiritual writer encourages us to train ourselves to be more aware of Christ’s presence in our lives. We do this through prayer, which can be a specific moment in the day when we pray for our needs, the needs of our community and our world. Prayer can also be a constant awareness that Christ is with us and that we belong to Christ.

We are talking about the Thessalonians again this week. They also struggled with understanding what Jesus’ death and resurrection meant. They had recently experienced deaths in their community as a result of persecution. What was going to happen to these loved ones? Where did they go? Paul had to remind them what Jesus’ death and resurrection meant. (I Thessalonians 4:13-5:11) We also need to be reminded from time to time.

This week’s prayer: Lord, may the meaning of your death and resurrection move from our minds to our hearts. You are our Comforter, our Companion, and our Saviour. Help us to be more aware of your presence in this week. Amen.

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