Resurrection

Episcopal Diocese of Washington
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Bishop Mariann’s Blog

Resurrection

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Someone once asked me if I thought the resurrection was necessary. He meant it in the most sincere way, as a person of both faith and doubt who wondered if we needed to be bound by so unreasonable a proposition that Jesus’ tomb was, in fact, empty on that first Easter morning. 

I hesitated in answering, because there seemed to be layers of argument behind the question. My answer was yes, resurrection is the foundation of Christian faith, but probably not in the way he meant it. 

To say that resurrection is essential doesn’t mean that if someone were to discover a tomb with Jesus’ remains in it that the entire enterprise would come crashing down. The truth is that we don’t know what happened to Jesus after his death, anymore than we can know what will happen to us. What we do know from the stories handed down is how Jesus’ followers experienced his resurrection. What we know is how we experience resurrection ourselves. 

That experience is the beginning of faith, not in the sense of intellectual acceptance of an outlandish proposition, but of being touched by something so powerful that it changes you, or so gentle that it gives you courage to persevere when life is crushingly hard. It is experiencing a presence so forgiving that you can at last forgive yourself for your greatest failings, and forgive those whose failings have wounded you, and so loving that your own capacity to love expands beyond your wildest imagining.

Resurrection is an experience that touches us where we live, not on the level of opinion or argument, but at the heart of everything we hold dear. As we face the anxiety and fear of death, Jesus assures us of God’s infinite mercy waiting on the other side. As we carry the burdens of our own failings, Jesus comes with forgiveness—not abstractly, but personally and with great specificity. And as we feel the weight of our own self-consciousness, Jesus comes with the lightest touch. It isn’t all about you, he gently chides. It isn’t all up to you. “Your great mistake,” writes the poet David Whyte, “is to act the drama as if you were alone.”

This Easter, receive the gifts of love, forgiveness, and confidence that Jesus offers for the first or the thousandth time. And strive to live so that through your love, others might experience the power of resurrection for themselves. 

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