Saturday, March 22, 2008


The most dismal Easter service I ever experienced was in an Episcopal church we visited twenty-some years ago. The priest (a good man, but a recent seminary grad) basically said in his homily, “Christ wasn’t really raised from the dead, but it doesn’t matter because . . .”

That's the kind of sermon that makes me say with Mary Magdalene, “They have taken away my Lord, and I don’t know where they have laid him.” I far prefer novelist John Updike's poem "Seven Stanzas at Easter," which begins:
Make no mistake: if He rose at all
it was as His body;
if the cells' dissolution did not reverse, the molecules
reknit, the amino acids rekindle,
the Church will fall.
So I appreciated Rachel Zoll's article in this morning's Washington Post, "Resurrection Misunderstood by Many, Scholars Say." Three of the scholars she cites are
Jon Levenson, author of Resurrection and the Restoration of Israel, Kevin Madigan, co-author with Levenson of Resurrection: The Power of God for Christians and Jews (to be published April 28), and N.T. Wright, author of The Resurrection of the Son of God and the recently published Surprised by Hope.

What do these three theologians--an American Jew, an Irish-American Catholic, and a bishop of the Church of England--have in common? All three, according to Zoll, "have been challenging the idea, part of Greek philosophy and popular now, that resurrection for Jews and the followers of Jesus is simply the survival of an individual's soul in the hereafter. The scholars say resurrection occurs for the whole person -- body and soul."

Get ready to say it tonight or tomorrow morning:
Christ is risen!
He is risen indeed!

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