It seems it was only a few days ago we were proclaiming the Easter message, “He is Risen, He is Risen Indeed!”. As I was preparing my Easter message, I came across a poem by the American poet and novelist John Updike titled Seven Stanzas on Easter. The poem wrestles with the attempts some have made in the modern world to dismiss the resurrection of Christ as something less than an actual historical, physical event. Updike puts it well in the first stanza when he notes, “The Church will fall”, if it didn’t really happen. Like the Apostle Paul we recognize that the heart of Christianity is found in Christ and more specifically in his resurrection. Consider this: Jesus dies as the vast majority of his disciples have abandoned him. The resurrection is that event which brings them back together, galvanizes them, and reinvigorates them for the life of persecution that they will lead in the wake of the scandal. For the Christian, the resurrection is the ballgame; it’s everything. It changes everything. Because He is Risen we have full confidence that death is not the last word. Instead, in Christ, the one who conquered death, we have a certain hope of resurrection beyond death. God gets the last word and that word is life; life abundant now and eternally with Christ. He is risen, He is risen indeed!
Seven Stanzas on Easter
Make no mistake: if he rose at all It was as His body; If the cell’s dissolution did not reverse, the molecule 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 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.
Blessings, Pastor Erik