Assistant Curate, Mariama Ifode-Blease, reflects on the challenges and consequences of the resurrection.
I hope that you are basking in the post-resurrection glow, akin to the one we have when we return from a memorable holiday, or after we have had some quality time with the family we inherited or the family we have made. It’s not easy, is it, to explain the resurrection. Thankfully, that is not what we are asked to do. We are asked to simply tell people that it has happened, not to try to fit it into a logic model, or squeeze it into a post-enlightenment paradigm. Jesus, who we believe was both human and divine, the Son of God, was crucified. He died. He rose again. His wounded body somehow overcame death and was seen by hundreds of people. This is what we celebrated this past weekend. This is why we had trumpets and hallelujahs and dancing.
The problem, of course, is that the challenge of the resurrection confronts us like the smell of a freshly painted room. How are we to live, and what are we to do with this miracle in our daily lives? How can we hold the mystery alongside our lived experienced, which can be difficult, overwhelming, and leave us feeling exhausted and less hopeful?
I often think of the women at the tomb. No matter which Gospel you read, the women are there. And they are not told to hide what they see, nor are they told to lie about it. The telling of the Good News of the empty tomb both implicates and inspires us. We are implicated in that we have no choice but to see the world transformed, and because we know that we have a part to play in its ongoing transformation. We are inspired because it is confirmed that we are not to celebrate this life alone. We are to do it in community, whether that be at a personal and/or corporate level. The women had to share the news because the reality of it is that it cannot be contained or lived out individually. It needs to be lived out collectively.
And there is more. As if that wasn’t enough, we see that the system that arrested, tried, abused and killed an innocent man has been exposed for what it is. A choice. Systems are the ultimate expression of the choices we make to categorise, order and, yes, control. They are the collection of the choices that we, or rather those who have the power to create systems, make. And resurrection stands as a mirror to systems, reflecting the light of resurrection on them and asking the simple question: does this system lead to life or to death? And if it is to death, where and how can it be transformed?
So you see, the consequence of the resurrection is more than recognising that God is alive. That we do not worship a God who is dead. And because it was women, who were marginalised in their society at the time of Jesus, because it was them who saw and believed, we have to reimagine what community means. And that can be hard. Community cannot be simply for those who look and sound like us and have the same education and life experiences that we do. The consequence of the resurrection is that we bear a collective responsibility for inclusive community and shared storytelling, storytelling that brings light into the darkness, that tells the truth and that holds people accountable.
There is also another more quiet consequence of the resurrection that we can also hold onto. In the coming weeks, we will read and learn that the wounds of Jesus are still visible. His body is risen and yet the suffering and torture of life can still be seen. Transformation does not mean erasure. Resurrection does not mean denial. The mystery holds what we have suffered and lost, and the mystery also reveals what can be possible when we give these experiences up to God. In our living and in our dying, we remain held. In our questions and our doubting, we remain loved. In the joy and celebration of Easter, we remain mindful of a world that needs to change so that all can be free.
The empty tomb exposes our potential and the possibilities within, and beyond, us. God does not limit us, or what we can be or do. God also does not impose on us a divine presence or exhaustive list of demands. God waits, and loves, and delights in our co-creation with God, of a better and more just world.