As the Easter Season rolls along, we continue to dwell in the reality of resurrection. The challenge for me, of course, is that in my reality, physical resurrection seems to be an abstract concept.
As far as I can tell, I’ve never been privy to a resurrection quite like Jesus’. I’ve never laid a person to rest, only to have that person return to crash my dinner party (as Jesus does with the disciples in the “Upper Room”). This does not mean that I don’t believe in the physical resurrection. I very much do.
I proclaim my individual belief in the resurrection when I recite the Apostle’s Creed on Sunday morning, “I believe…in the resurrection of the body and the life everlasting.” When we recite the Nicene Creed together we take this belief a step further, “We look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life if the world to come.”
I love the dual experience of the resurrection found in these statements of faith. On the one hand, I, as an individual, believe in the resurrection of the body. This isn’t a belief in ephemeral spirits or ghosts (although I have some theories, but that’s an article for a later date). On the other hand, we, the collective people of God, look for the resurrection of the dead. In other words, we proclaim a desire to seek out the resurrection.
In scripture, it seems like a lot of people are seeking out their dead friend Jesus, but perhaps what they really were looking for is the resurrection. Maybe what draws them to the tomb is their curiosity to see if Jesus’ predictions of death, and subsequent resurrection are true - the resurrection itself serving as a sign of the world to come. It’s a beautiful and messy concoction of fear, doubt, joy and amazement that frames all of the resurrection stories.
The question I ask myself is, “Self, where in your life do you seek out the resurrection of the dead and the life of the world to come?” While I don’t frequent the graves of my loved ones to make sure that they’re not risen, I seek out the physical resurrection nonetheless. I’ve seen people find new life in health after grim diagnoses. That’s resurrection! I’ve watched parishioners lose their fight to illness, but in the process find a deeper connection with God and their family which draws in closer in a time of grief. That’s resurrection! I’ve seen congregations find a new sense of life in the freedom to seek change, expecting death, but opening the door to revitalization. That’s resurrection!
Resurrection is not just a belief, it’s an experience. It manifests itself in so many different facets of our daily lives. Sometimes it’s obvious, like an empty tomb with neatly folded burial cloths (which I imagine is like folding a fitted sheet, which is only possible by the heavenly realm, I’m convinced). Sometimes it’s veiled, and in those moments it’s our job to look for it. More often than not, the best place to start that looking is in a place of death. Because the true power of the resurrection is it’s victory over death.