Life can really be hard, don’t you think? And, when we witness someone else going through the hard parts, it’s often very difficult for us to handle because of our own fears and our own inadequacies. I can tell you, as a new mom to a special needs child, there were many times when Danny was little that I felt alone and scared. No child comes with an instruction manual, but I really needed one. Over the years things achieved some sort of out of whack balance with the occasional curveball that made things really hard. People often call special needs parents brave or strong; I can tell you that neither one is true at least for me. Doing the “next right thing” has always been my plan when nothing else works; doing the next right thing has helped keep me focused and has taken away much of the fear that I sometimes experience. And, I would have to say that knowing that Jesus is alive and risen, and that I can depend on him being present with me no matter what… well, that’s what gets me out of bed some days.
I was mindlessly scrolling through Facebook as I do sometimes, when something caught my eye. It was posted on Easter day, and it is a quote from Dietrich Bonhoeffer, and I have been thinking about it ever since. He is speaking about resurrection:
It is not a destruction of the embodiedness, but rather the new creation of embodiedness that takes place here. The body of Jesus leaves the tomb, and the tomb is empty. Just how is it possible or conceived that the mortal, perishable body is now present as the immortal, imperishable, transfigured body remains a mystery to us. Perhaps the different versions of the disciples’ encounter with the Resurrected help to make clear that we ourselves are unable to imagine what is meant by this new bodiliness of the Resurrected. We do not know that it is the same body — for the tomb is empty; and that it is a new body — for the tomb is empty. We do know that God has judged the first creation, and has created a new creation in the exact image of the first. It is not an idea of Christ that lives on, but the real, physical Christ. That is God’s yes to the new creature in the midst of the old creature. From the resurrection we know that God has not abandoned the earth, but has reconquered it, has given it a new future, a new promise. The same earth that God created bore God’s Son and his cross, and on this earth the resurrected appeared to his disciples, and to this earth Christ will return on the last day. Whoever affirms Christ’s resurrection in faith can no longer flee the world, but neither can they fall prey to the world, for in the midst of the old they have recognized God’s new creation.”
There’s a lot in that short paragraph. What I think stopped me in my tracks was the insistence that the resurrection of Jesus is real; that he was resurrected IN BODY; not just as a wish or an idea that lives on, but as a real body, that embodies God as well as the law and in that living, resurrected body, a new creation has been born. Hard to see it sometimes isn’t it? When you read in the news about a homeless man killed on Subway train because he was loud, and then his killer walks away a freee man; or when you hear of another shooting, this one in Allen Texas. Sometimes it looks like the same old place with the same old sins and the same old war and we are here making the same old mistakes, suffering the same old hurts. But… the earth after Jesus’ resurrection is not the same old place; it is a new creation where God has put God’s flesh and God’s Spirit – God’s stamp if you will, on this new creation. On Easter day, nothing would be the same ever again. And it wasn’t an easy message for the disciples to hear; how could they possibly understand what Jesus was saying? Do we understand? Not fully, not yet; not until he comes again will we understand, but he told us that he and the Father were one and that we too would be with him and the Father. The idea of many dwelling places has always comforted me at the death of people I love becasue I know they will be with Jesus and loved even more than I can love them. But you know what else? Knowing that Jesus was raised from the dead and that he IS risen here and now, that he was raised in his body with the marks of the crucifixion on his body… that’s the idea that gets me out of bed on the hard days; that’s what gives me hope that “the next right thing” will keep adding up to more next right things; the knowledge that Jesus was raised from the dead, helps me to know that even the darkest of days doesn’t win… becasue with Jesus we are all part of the new creation. What is true for him is also true for us. Love, God’s holy and redeeming love that died on a cross and was raised again in the darkness, that love will always win. I am not brave or strong, at least not by myself, but knowing that Jesus has made all creation new by joining humanity to God and overcoming death…well, I can be let me troubled heart be healed in the peace of Christ which passes all understanding. God’s love for this world shown to us in the resurrection of Jesus is most definitely a mystery and I am grateful for it. Alleluia, Christ is risen!