Saturday, April 7, 2012

What I Make of the Empty Tomb

What is the meaning of the resurrection of Jesus?
The empty tomb tells us that Jesus is on the loose!

There are long range implications of the resurrection as empty tomb.
We continue to interpret the Easter hope.
We do not pass it along untouched.
To speak it anew means to pass on our own understanding of what it means and could mean in our lives and for the world.
Somehow, the resurrection of Christ has something to do with what is happening in our world.
Jesus is on the loose.

Lloyd Geering is an amazing octogenarian in New Zealand.
He is a Presbyterian minister and seminary professor who was tried for heresy 45 years ago. Wrestling with God tells his story.
He denied the literal virgin birth and resurrection, and defended his position in a two day trial in which he was acquitted.
He has said that Religion is not the supernatural but that which interprets and enhances life.
(He has written many good books – Christian Faith at the Crossroads is a good place to start.)

He tells us that all of human history is a road to freedom:
Judaism began the path of human freedom when they left Egypt and proclaimed that God had freed them.
This exodus became a parable of freedom both for Jews and later for Christians.

The meticulous observance of the Mosaic tradition led to a new kind of slavery: enslavement to the written word of the law.
At least that is how the early Christians saw it.
Resurrection was the new Exodus; a new liberation from the old religion and the rule of Rome.

Later Christians also gave themselves up to a new slavery, enslavement to the written word of the Bible and to written creeds and doctrines of belief.
But the Exodus tradition inspired many struggles for freedom.
The idea of freedom survived when the Jews lost to the Greeks.
It survived when they lost to the Romans and both Jews and Christians were dispersed from their holy land.
In the renaissance thinkers claimed the right to think for themselves.
In the Reformation people claimed the freedom of individuals to make and to choose their own religion.
The Enlightenment affirmed universal human rights.
People won freedom to govern themselves without absolute monarchy and the divine right of kings.

Human slavery was abolished.
Racial division and racism have been rejected, and women were emancipated so that they could aspire to any work, although oppression of racial minorities and women continues.
Now homosexuals claim their right to exist.
Now we see the disadvantaged, the wretched of the earth.
Can their right to life be next?

Now that the danger of nuclear weapons is universally recognized, can a world without nuclear weapons be possible?
The damage to the earth that we have done is now visible, can the liberation of the earth itself be far behind?

We argue about immigrants. Can it be that there will life without nations and borders?
Jesus is on the loose!
Who can imagine where the Exodus and the Resurrection will take us - or we will take the Exodus and the Resurrection - next?

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