Years ago, I went through a spiritual awakening, a transformational experience. The memory stays with me today and has informed my life and ministry. Call it mystical or spiritual (you can even call me delusional, I don’t care). I call it resurrection: a calling forth from the tomb of shame, depression and despair.
That is why I absolutely love and agree with the presenters in the “Resurrection” segment of our Lent series, Saving Jesus. Their emphasis was not so much on The Resurrection (the ‘of Jesus’ kind), but on the resurrections that can happen any day, in anyone’s life – before and after death. In fact, it was the ‘before death’ kind we talked most about that evening. , Living the Questions
Of course, this Sunday is Easter Sunday, when we remember The Resurrection – whatever that was. There’s been a lot of speculation back and forth by many about just what did happen, as well as the absolute certainty of many others that they know exactly what happened. But – as the series pointed out: even the gospel writers don’t agree.
But the late Marcus Borg gets the prize for best answer: “The emphasis upon the tomb really being empty that’s made by some Christians and the emphasis that Jesus rose in a physical, bodily way from the dead is really a distraction.”
Something happened. I have no doubt about that. But I can’t explain it any more than I can explain what happened to me years ago. Whatever happened to me was wondrous, life-changing, transformational, joyous, wanting to be shared. Life suddenly went from black and white to technicolor. For me, that was Easter; that was resurrection.
So, yes, to to emphasize only the resurrection of Jesus long ago, misses the point. To argue about or insist upon what actually, literally happened, is truly a distraction.
The point is that Divine Creativity is at work in the world. That life-giving, life-empowering Presence can roll away stones from the tombs that imprison us – whatever they are. I’m not talking about a magical, fix-it, Santa Claus, fairy godmother who will grant our every wish. I’m talking about an opening up of dreams we’ve forgotten and possibilities we never even knew existed.
The thing is, though, there’s risk involved in being open to such cosmic wonder. We might come out of the tomb into a life that is very different. And as uncomfortable as the tomb may have been, it’s the one we’ve known. It will take courage to come out into the light. Many will not; freedom is just too scary.
This Easter, I will celebrate resurrection life. I will give thanks for Jesus, who showed us the way through death itself. No matter what happened at his tomb, I truly do believe that something wonderful happened to him and that his followers experienced glimpses and glimmers of that wonder.
I also truly do believe that creative, transformational energy is available to each and every one of us. And I’ll celebrate that too.
Don’t be distracted by beliefs or unbeliefs in an historic empty tomb. The stone in front of your tomb is waiting to be rolled away. Are you ready to come out into the light?