Friday, March 31, 2006

Resurrection? So What? Materially Present

Author, theologian, teacher and baseball fanatic Tex Sample, led our pilgrims through the daunting discussion of the Resurrection of Jesus. Did Jesus rise from the dead? Was Jesus' corpse raised? Was it a metaphorical resurrection? Was Jesus raised in the hearts of the disciples? Just what happened?

Tex offered two stories for possible consideration. There are two stories of tradition: the empty tomb tradition and the appearance tradition. The empty tomb tradition offers several possibilities including the corpsal resurrection of the body of Jesus. The appearance tradition includes Jesus appearing unexpectedly without explanation. Not as a ghost, or an appartion or simply in "the hearts of the disciples" but, as the mystery of the Presence.

Tex offered that through his research, as best as he can determine, no reputable and respected theologian suggests that Jesus' corpse was raised from the dead. They do offer a few possibilities. Tex suggested we consider the Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams' understanding. In Williams' book, The Resurrection: Interpreting the Easter Gospel, he argues that Jesus Resurrection was a "material presence."

"The risen Christ is not a resuscitated human individual....but, an active and transforming presence never exhausted or assimilated....He never belongs to the past in the sense that what he does or is is over, completed and sealed off. And he does not act in the present simply by influence and is in confrontation with his presence that human lives are restored and reshaped." (Resurrection, Williams, page 55)

Jesus' material presence is still confronting us this very day continuing to transform our lives and challenging us to live into the radical hospitality of Jesus' invitation to the table; the Eucharist. Tex stated that the Eucharist is the most important thing in his life. It is the transformative call of the Eucharistic life of Jesus, his disciples and we as his followers that "moves" us into a community of radical forgiveness. "Thus to welcome or be welcomed by him at a meal on the further side of Calvary is the ultimate assurance of mercy and acceptance, of indestructible love." (Williams, 100) It is also the call of the Christian community to be Christ's active agents of love and forgiveness in a world of pain of suffering as Jesus taught in Matthew 25.

The Christian community is also, by virtue of the confrontation of Jesus' material presence, called to a voice for Jesus' message of peace, egalitarianism, and trust in God. This is a challenge for the Church in a capitalistic America. The question for the Church and the Christians within it is this, "how far have I (we) allowed Christ's questioning to transform my (our) life into compassion, and how far, therefore, I have allowed compassion in me to transform the world?" (Williams, 79)

Jesus' Resurrection is The call to live the transformed life found in the Presence of God. This life is lived as a Eucharistic life, broken and shared. It is to be given to feed all who come to the table. It is radical hospitality and forgiveness shared with those who are hungry, naked, thirsty, sick and in prison, and the stranger in our land.

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