Radical Preaching

Can preaching again have something to say?
This blog marks the attempt to bring the theological vision of Radical Orthodoxy into the worship and preaching of the local church.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Evidence of Easter

"But Peter got up and ran to the tomb; stooping and looking in, he saw
the linen cloths by themselves; then he went home, amazed atwhat had
(Luke 24:12, NRSV).

One of my favorite shows is CSI. I love to watch how they take miniscule pieces of evidence and then determine how a crime was committed and who the probable offender was. We live in an age where we believe science can and will solve our problems. We believe in an age where seeing is believing, and, as shows like CSI reveal, we can see into even the most minute aspects of human life. At the same time, our ability to see has not aroused in us a deep sense of awe and wonder at the world God has created. We are not moved to tears as we watch an unborn child yawn in her mother's womb. Instead, we are strangely preoccupied with death. The ongoing high ratings of shows like CSI and Law and Order reveal that we are a culture that finds death much more interesting than life. PArt of the reason is that the evidence of death is everywhere. It is not hard to understand the "natural" process of birth, maturity, decay, and death. We see it in the seasons, in animals and insects, even in our own bodies. In an empirical era, it is a slam dunk case. There is no need for DNA testing.

The disciples in today's reading also understand death. When the women return, out of breath and in a state of shock, telling a wild story about an empty tomb, bolts of lightning, and angelic visitors, the disciples dismiss it as an "idle tale" (NSRV) or "nonsense" (NIV). No one survives crucifixion. The women must be hysterical and just made this tale up. They did not believe the women. However, Peter leaves on a dead run, hurrying to the tomb to see exactly what has happened. He bends down, peers in, and sees that the linen clothes are there by themselves, empty with no body. Then, Peter does something interesting. After an unimaginably crazy week, after a week of scurrying, hiding, denying, and running around, Peter goes home. Yes he is amazed, but his response to the evidence of Easter is just to go home.

I wonder how similar we are to Peter. The church gathers together on Easter Sunday, having finished a Lenten fast and rehearsed Jesus' Last SUpper and crucifixion. We enter on Easter SUnday and find all the evidence of Easter given to us by the tradition- a white cloth on the cross, lillies, hallelujahs, reports that Christ has risen, hymns that announce the revelation of a new world. All the evidence is there, and then we all too often go home, amazed but largely unchanged. The good news of this story is that Peter did not stay at home. He continued the journey of Eastertide and found himself dramatically transformed by the Holy Spirit at Pentecost.

Having seen the evidence of Easter, will we go home- back to lives lived under the dominion of death, habituated by the practices of surviving another day, or will we be caught up in the life of Easter, a strange journey for a peculiar people that announces that the empty linens are all the evidence that we need that death, sin, and evil have been defeated and that God has delivered salvation to his creation?

Grace and PEace,


Blogger Deep Furrows said...

It occurs to me as I read this that CSI, etc are not interested in the mystery of death or the mystery of life for that matter.

Instead, death is reduced to a problem that is solvable and therefore non-problemic. Columbo and Homicide, I recall, seemed a bit more open to that which is greater than what can be conceived.

At his school, my son had difficulty finishing assignments, following directions, obeying, and making friends. I met with the experts at the school. The school psychologist said that since he is above grade level in reading and at grade level in math, there is no problem, problem being defined in terms of Adequate Yearly Progress.

Mysteries like death must be faced, but CSI, etc, don't usually confront death head on. By slight of hand, they turn death into a puzzle within our grasp.


June 16, 2006 3:28 PM  

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