Saturday, April 11, 2009

Why Christ's Physical Resurrection Matters

The Apostle Paul said: "16 if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. 18 Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. 19 If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied." (1 Cor. 15) While many modern so-called churches have forgotten this timeless truth, it still speaks today.

I offer this poem by John Updike as an Easter meditation.

Make no mistake: if He rose at all
it was as His body;
if the cells' dissolution did not reverse, the molecules
reknit, the amino acids rekindle,
the Church will fall.

It was not as the flowers,
each soft Spring recurrent;
it was not as His Spirit in the mouths and fuddled
eyes of the eleven apostles;
it was as His Flesh: ours.

The same hinged thumbs and toes,
the same valved heart
that — pierced — died, withered, paused, and then
regathered out of enduring Might
new strength to enclose.

Let us not mock God with metaphor,
analogy, sidestepping transcendence;
making of the event a parable, a sign painted in the
faded credulity of earlier ages:
let us walk through the door.

The stone is rolled back, not papier - mache,
not a stone in a story,
but the vast rock of materiality that in the slow
grinding of time will eclipse for each of us
the wide light of day.

And if we will have an angel at the tomb,
make it a real angel,
weighty with Max Planck's quanta, vivid with hair,
opaque in the dawn light, robed in real linen
spun on a definite loom.

Let us not seek to make it less monstrous,
for our own convenience, our own sense of beauty,
lest, awakened in one unthinkable hour, we are
embarrassed by the miracle,
and crushed by remonstrance.

— From Telephone Poles and Other Poems by John Updike
© 1961 by John Updike

John Updike's take is that if all there is is all we can control, we are dead to truth and beauty, and most to be pitied. This Easter, my prayer for you is a deep encounter with the truth of the Risen Christ - a true human (like you and me) and also true God. As his body has been raised into glorified perfection, so shall ours be. And as his body is one, may he also make his church - his body on earth - to be one. Amen.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Speak your mind or mind your speech?

From the Church Times:
The liberties we enjoy in a demo­cracy are inseparable from freedom of expression. The exercise of that freedom makes demands on us all. Nowhere are those demands more highly charged than where religious groupings believe their faith has been insulted.

Those sections of society that are unable to tease out the relationship between freedom of expression and self-restraint, or to understand that, when offence is given, challenge — rather than violence or prohibition — should be the response, pose a threat to the fabric of a democratic state.

FREEDOM of expression is a dearly bought and cherished attribute of democracy. Respect and consideration for the sensi­bilities of others should be equally valued. The freedom to hold an opinion does not confer the right to express it regardless of context. Neither does personal or collective offence necessarily license pro­hibi­tion of offending material.

There is no right to be protected from offence, but there is a right — even a duty — to engage in debate, and thus to challenge the giver of offence. It is through debate that we learn what may be tolerated and what must be proscribed. Violence of speech or action short-circuits this civilised usage, and gives rise to oppression, fear, and resentment.

Prohibition has reinforced the idea that violent protest is the only response to false­hood....defamation must be met with dialogue. Neither tolerance nor self-restraint is learned under the rule of the censor.
Prohibition of free speech isn't as far as you think. In seminary, a friend was called into the dean's office for using biblical language about God - because some people found it offensive. You can't imagine the opprobrium - the violent political moves and abuses of professorial power - that is heaped on anyone who would limit feminine universals in language...but masculinity is ruled right out. It's tragic because in losing God's masculinity we lose God's transcendence...and we are placed on the road to paganism and panentheism.

Monday, April 06, 2009

Have Thine Own Way

Naked Pastor hits another one out of the park!

Feast of St. Richard

I missed posting this last week. Holy Week doesn't look like it's going to be any easier, so I need this prayer even more.

St. Richard of Chichester’s Prayer

Thanks be to you, my lord, Jesus Christ,
For all the benefits that you have given me;
For all the pains and insults you have borne for me.

O, most merciful redeemer, friend and brother,
May I know you more clearly;
Love you more dearly;
And follow you more nearly. Amen.