Monday, April 09, 2012

The Turning Of The Eastertide

So now that Easter is over...Oh, wait: Easter lasts forty days to Ascension Day, and then a further nine days to the eve of Pentecost.  Why?  Because it takes time to live into resurrection: chronos time, setting aside seven weeks; and kairos time, encountering the risen Jesus.

If we have died with Christ, if we have been raised with him, if the life we now live is his living in us, then the resurrection has implication for us, here and now.  It is not simply the guarantee that after our bodies die, we will each receive an imperishable body.  What has begun here is nothing less than a new humanity, within a new creation, and in this new order the church is, in the words of Rowan Williams, an experimental “pilot project for the human race.”

And if the church looks more like a museum, or a mausoleum, or a waiting-room for heaven, than a pilot project for the human race then that is an unsurprising consequence of doing Easter in a day, and of making it about what Jesus did for us as individuals rather than what he has done for and to all creation within which I am not the centre of the universe.

If Christ is risen from the dead, then every barrier is broken down.  But we have loved our defensive walls, our elaborate socio-architectural structures, our clear divisions and classifications; we have loved to fight our corner, to determine who is chosen and who is side-lined; we have loved our petty triumphs, and our scapegoats for our failures.  And if we are to delight in those who do not look like us, if we are to rejoice to see them flourish, if we are to revel in the unity-in-diversity that God has championed since the very first chapter of our Story, it is going to take time.

And just as the first disciples did not at first recognise the risen Jesus, did not recognise his face but only saw him in his authentic words and familiar actions, so we must learn to see Jesus in unfamiliar faces, in unfamiliar places.  Until we can, Easter has passed us by...

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