When I say Alleluia, Christ is risen,
you say, The Lord is risen indeed, alleluia.
This time, when I say
Alleluia, Christ is risen,
you say, Christ is rising in me right now, Alleluia.
Alleluia, Christ is risen;
Christ is rising in me right now, Alleluia.
There you are. That is what all this is about. That is what the Easter meaning is. Christ is rising in me right now. Christ is rising in you, right now. The resurrection of Jesus Christ is not an event, it is a process that is as active and dynamic right now as it was on the day we hear about in the gospel. The resurrection of Jesus Christ is an ongoing, eternal process that enlightens our existence and gives meaning to the reality of the struggle between good and evil that you and I are part of. It is a process that depends upon light and dark, upon life and death, upon righteousness and sin, on success and failure, on power and emptiness, on good and evil. The resurrection of Jesus creates the center point on which paradox becomes an indicator of divine presence, on which paradox becomes the way of salvation. We sing in full voice, “Earth thy footstool, heaven thy throne,” and that is true. We sing the canticle, “the one who is mighty has magnified me,” and that is true, too.
The gospel writers have given us such a gift in telling us, in every one of these resurrection encounters, that some of the witnesses did not believe, that some were afraid, that some were terrified, that some were unable to recognize Jesus. The resurrection of Jesus is not an “aha” moment. It is, instead, the offer of a new reality into which we must move, and our movements will be fitful and uncertain. The resurrection of Jesus is an invitation to discover that in the unrecognizable one, that in the one we hear about but never see, there is such a deep blessing offered that in accepting it we will simultaneously die and rise to life beyond the broken imaginations we have been taught to settle for. The resurrection of Jesus invites us into a confrontation and conflict with all we have been taught to trust, because a truer and deeper reality is the only place where we will find our true worth, our abiding joy.
Let me bring you from the sublime to the commonplace, for we have to begin with an understanding of the resurrection as a reality that fits into everyday life. Think of all the resurrection appearance stories. Today we have the story of a group of friends fishing through the night. There are stories of Jesus asking a woman who is weeping what is troubling her. The disciples are told to return to Galilee, the district of jobs and marriages and aging parents and needy children. There is an evening meal, in which the new reality becomes clear just as the friends begin to pass the bread. There are breakfast encounters, and encounters in the midst of traveling along a road on the way to the next stop on a business trip.
All the resurrection encounters are set in the midst of mundane, everyday life events. We have been taught to see them, perhaps, through the wondrous awe depicted by Titian and Caravaggio and Giotto, but the descriptions in the words of the gospels are simple, straightforward and free of drama. In the barely receding darkness of an early morning, Jesus has built a small fire on which to cook some fish. The campfire is a flickering beacon in the dimness of dawn. There is a request to get some of the freshly caught fish; there is an invitation to eat, and then an invitation to take a walk together. In this simple encounter we see Peter drawn out from life encaged by guilty remorse for having denied Jesus in the high priest’s courtyard, set free through a reaffirmation of love that will enable him to become the great leader of the Jesus movement.
In these simple encounters there is a personal confrontation which, if we can accept how intimately aware it is, creates transformation and new life. In the garden Jesus speaks to the weeping woman, “Mary.” In the upper room Jesus speaks to the ashamed disciple, “Place your finger in my wounds; place your hand into my side.” In a walk along the beach Jesus speaks to his close friend, “Simon Peter, do you love me?” letting his friend exclaim with a sob, “Lord, you know I love you.” In the midst of a caravan trek across the desert Jesus calls an enemy by name, “Saul, Saul why do you hate me?”
The resurrection of Jesus, in a rather remarkable way, requires some level of participation from each one of us as individuals in order to be true. The resurrection does not reveal some lofty standard toward which we must strive, but it is about bringing life into the midst of death, about bringing holiness into the midst of the common, about bringing righteousness into the midst of sin. Not only does Jesus of Nazareth enter into the fullness of suffering and the death of the tomb, but the risen Christ enters into the sorrow of Mary, the grief of Thomas, the shame of Peter and the animosity of Paul.
It is this gritty, human, broken reality that is where the life giving power of God’s intervention takes hold. It is in the midst of what is lost and enslaved that the liberating gift of redemption brings new possibility and genuine freedom.
It is in the most honest assessment of who you and I are as individuals, that the reality of the resurrection of Jesus Christ becomes transformative and even world changing. We as unique and entirely distinct individuals must each wrestle the reality of our own stories into some kind of relationship with the story of Jesus Christ so that we are able to see the unique and life defining truth that we hold onto as individuals. Only when we are able to appreciate that the resurrection gives the fullness of life to who each of us is as individuals, in whom the divine truth is expressed in us and in our unique voices, can the power of Christ be released and the fullness of life be received. Alleluia, Christ is risen. Christ is rising in me right now, Alleluia.
Your unique story — in which the brokenness and wounds, in which the triumphs and failures, in which the doubt and skepticism are embraced as part of your own beauty, as part of the image of God in you – is the true page on which the gospel of Jesus Christ is written.
Carl Jung, near the end of his life, began to assert that it will be the willingness on the part of enough individuals to enter into the deep and demanding effort to bring forth the truth of who we are that is the only thing that can save us from the abandonment of the spirit and the loss of beauty in the world. The over-reliance on interpreting everything through analysis, through assumptions that see everything as cause and effect will create an aridity of feeling and a failure of compassion. Only the deep work of integrating the great stories and the great symbols into the fullness of our unique selves will enable the beauty of the image of God to be seen in the midst of human endeavor too easily limited by shallow assessments of value and profit and measured success.
We can only do this work by feeding on Christ. There is the image of that feeding in the bread and wine of Holy Communion. There is feeding in the stories and teachings of Christ in the scripture. There is the feeding that we do in prayer and conversation with others. We feed on Christ to bring the fullness of his being into our deepest imagination, so that it can connect with our self-examination, our self-imagination. We feed on Christ in order that what is full of death within can be buried with Christ in his death, only to rise with him into that new life which can never be lost.
Alleluia, Christ is risen.
Christ is rising in me right now, Alleluia.