Holy Week Reflections #7: Easter Sunday // Practice Resurrection…

If anyone is in Christ — it’s all New Creation; the Old is gone, Behold! – the New has come.  – St. Paul

As Christ, Jesus is the plane which lies beyond our comprehension.  The plane which is known to us, he intersects vertically, from above…As the Christ, He brings the world of the Father…In the Resurrection the new world of the Holy Spirit touches the old world of the flesh, but touches it as a tangent touches a circle, that is, without touching it.  And precisely because it does not touch it, it touches it as its frontier–as the new world…What touches us–and yet does not touch us–in Jesus the Christ, is the Kingdom of God who is both Creator and Redeemer.  – Karl Barth, Epistle to the Romans

30 When he was at the table with them, he took bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them. 31 Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him, and he disappeared from their sight. 32 They asked each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?”  – The Gospel of St. Luke, chapter 24

Christ is Risen…the Church declares – “He is risen indeed!”

But what shall we do?

Perhaps more clearly than anyone else, Barth (quoted above) understood that the Resurrection of Jesus from the dead is not one “thing” that takes place in the world among other “things”.  Rather, for Barth, the Resurrection is the incursion of the Kingdom in the midst of time, that “dissolves us as men” and then “establishes us by God” as a New People, a Kingdom People, who therefore live a fundamentally “odd” existence in this world.  In the language of one Bible writer, by virtue of our crossing the threshold between the Old Creation and the New Creation, by dying and coming to life again in the Resurrected One, Christ Jesus, we become “in but not of” the world…

We are odd… like the Resurrection is odd…

We are a threshold people…

I think that is what accounts for the paradoxical nature of the Church’s existence in the world, for we are a people who are at once ready to lay waste the earth and yet can speak and act tenderly towards her.  We’ll run around raving like lunatics about how bad things are and yet press on in our engagement with the world in courageous hope and conviction that there is a better future yet to be had.  We’ll excoriate humanity for her outrageous acts of rebellion, and yet stand ready to give a cup of cold water to a stranger.

We are this because we are a threshold people… an Easter people… that is, an “odd” people…

No one, in my opinion, has captured this better than Wendell Berry.  I leave this poem of his to you for the stoking of your Easter imagination, and I adjure you along with him, to “practice resurrection”:

Love the quick profit, the annual raise,
vacation with pay. Want more
of everything ready-made. Be afraid
to know your neighbors and to die.
And you will have a window in your head.
Not even your future will be a mystery
any more. Your mind will be punched in a card
and shut away in a little drawer.
When they want you to buy something
they will call you. When they want you
to die for profit they will let you know.

So, friends, every day do something
that won’t compute. Love the Lord.
Love the world. Work for nothing.
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it.
Denounce the government and embrace
the flag. Hope to live in that free
republic for which it stands.
Give your approval to all you cannot
understand. Praise ignorance, for what man
has not encountered he has not destroyed.

Ask the questions that have no answers.
Invest in the millenium. Plant sequoias.
Say that your main crop is the forest
that you did not plant,
that you will not live to harvest.
Say that the leaves are harvested
when they have rotted into the mold.
Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.

Put your faith in the two inches of humus
that will build under the trees
every thousand years.
Listen to carrion – put your ear
close, and hear the faint chattering
of the songs that are to come.
Expect the end of the world. Laugh.
Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful
though you have considered all the facts.
So long as women do not go cheap
for power, please women more than men.
Ask yourself: Will this satisfy
a woman satisfied to bear a child?
Will this disturb the sleep
of a woman near to giving birth?

Go with your love to the fields.
Lie down in the shade. Rest your head
in her lap. Swear allegiance
to what is nighest your thoughts.
As soon as the generals and the politicos
can predict the motions of your mind,
lose it. Leave it as a sign
to mark the false trail, the way
you didn’t go. Be like the fox
who makes more tracks than necessary,
some in the wrong direction.
Practice resurrection.

Amen.  So be it.

  • Wendell Berry has an amazing gift with words. I’m currently engrossed in his “The Art of the Commonplace”. I’d love to peek inside his brain for just a day. Come December, he’ll be making an appearance here in Tulsa to receive the Peggy V. Helmerich Distinguished Author Award from the Tulsa Library Trust. It’s already on my calendar!

    • He does indeed…I haven’t read much by him (“Sex, Economy, Freedom, and Community” primarily”) but he reaches a level of profundity that is simply astounding…amazing writer/thinker…tell him I said hi when you see him 🙂

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