Easter people

There are many great posts around the blogosphere about Easter. Here is one from NT professor (Asbury Seminary) Ben Witherington, Rising to the Occasion: Easter Reflections.

… It has been said that Christians are by nature an Easter people, and certainly in all generations of the church belief in the bodily resurrection of Christ has been the sine qua non of Christian faith—the most essential belief of all without which a person is not a confessing Christian.
As far back as we can go chronologically in the NT, to the earliest Aramaic fragments found in Paul’s earliest letters, there is clear evidence that Jesus was worshiped after Easter, but not really in any full sense before then. Indeed, Jesus was prayed to in Aramaic not long after his ascension—as we can see from 1 Cor. 16.22b—the famous maranatha prayer—”Come o Lord”. Now a monotheistic Jew only prayed to God. He or she certainly did not pray to some dead rabbi to come back. But here is a tiny window into the prayer life of those Jerusalem Jewish followers of Jesus who are urging Jesus to return as promised. What was it that led to this remarkable change in their piety from before and after Easter. How had James, a non-follower of Jesus, become one of the three great leaders of the Jerusalem church, one prepared to pray this prayer? The answer is found only a chapter earlier in 1 Corinthians—”then he appeared to James” (1 Cor. 15.7). It is the resurrection which produced worship of and confession of Jesus as the risen Lord. …
I thought I would leave you with my favorite Easter poem from none other than John Updike, perhaps our most celebrated American novelist of this era. You can find this poem in the volume I did with Christopher Armitage entitled The Poetry of Piety.

Seven Stanzas at Easter

Make no mistake: if he rose at all
It was as His body;
If the cell’s dissolution did not reverse, the molecule reknit,
The amino acids rekindle,
The Church will fall.

It was not as the flowers,
Each soft spring recurrent;
It was not as His Spirit in the mouths and fuddled eyes of the
Eleven apostles;
It was as His flesh; ours.

The same hinged thumbs and toes
The same valved heart
That-pierced-died, withered, paused, and then regathered
Out of enduring Might
New strength to enclose.

Let us not mock God with metaphor,
Analogy, sidestepping, transcendence,
Making of the event a parable, a sign painted in the faded
Credulity of earlier ages:
Let us walk through the door.

The stone is rolled back, not papier-mache,
Not a stone in a story,
But the vast rock of materiality that in the slow grinding of
Time will eclipse for each of us
The wide light of day.

And if we have an angel at the tomb,
Make it a real angel,
Weighty with Max Planck’s quanta, vivid with hair, opaque in
The dawn light, robed in real linen
Spun on a definite loom.

Let us not seek to make it less monstrous,
For our own convenience, our own sense of beauty,
Lest, awakened in one unthinkable hour, we are embarrassed
By the miracle,
And crushed by remonstrance.

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