The Thursday before Easter I presided at a funeral of a man I did not really know. I had presided over his grandson’s funeral several years ago. I then had his daughter’s funeral (the mother of the boy who had died). Three years ago, he put me down as the pastor to do his funeral.
At the graveside, among the scripture readings that I used, I read these words from 1 Corinthians: “So it is with the resurrection of the dead. What is sown is perishable, what is raised is imperishable…Just as we have borne the image of the man of dust [Adam] so we will also bear the image of the man of heaven.”
Christians believe a really weird claim. Not only did Jesus rise from the dead to live in a completely new order, a new creation, but so will his followers. “Listen, I will tell you a mystery! We will not all die, but we will all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound…and we will be changed.”
In John 20:19ff., the text says that the disciples were gathered together in the room and the door was locked for fear of what the religious authorities might do to them and (poof?) Jesus appears among them and says “Peace be with you.” How did Jesus get in if the door was locked? He just appeared.
But not as a ghost or something; not a mere apparition. The text then says that he showed them his hands and side, as if to say, “Yep, it’s really me.”
Christians believe some weird stuff and the resurrection is probably the weirdest. Maybe this is why, after we have had our nice little Easter celebrations, we go back to living and acting like nothing is different.
I do it. I sometimes refer to myself, somewhat disparagingly, as a “professional Christian.” In other words, it’s my job to pray (especially publicly at ceremonial gatherings) and to help lead a religious community in various ways. It’s my job to have some kind of answer when spiritual or religious questions arise. It’s my job to oversee certain ceremonies at certain times in people’s lives and deaths. And I get paid to do these things. I’m a professional Christian. It’s easy, after Easter, to settle back into “normal.”
But if am I a true believer, I can’t settle back into “normal.” Am I a true believer? When I say those words over the grave, words about rersurrection to new life, do I believe them?
I do. Still, sometimes I wonder, because belief in the resurrection is weird. Sometimes I ask myself, “Do I really believe it?” I do. And I know that it’s weird.
Therefore, I (we) do not have the luxury to live as if there is no new creation. If I (we) believe in the resurrection of Jesus and that his resurrection is the first fruits of the New Creation, then today, tomorrow, and every day – then right now – we live in the New Creation.
As my Dad used to say, “I don’t understand all I know about this matter.” The resurrection hope is just weird. But I believe it. And I want to see it and live it, daily.
May Paul’s words set the course for us: “Therefore, my beloved, be steadfast, immovable, always excelling in the work of the Lord, because you know that in the Lord [in the New Creation reality] your labor is not in vain.” May we followers of Jesus demonstrate by our lives the New Creation reality.