Because of this pandemic and how badly one of the local care-homes was hit by Covid-19, we’ve seen in our Parish the passing away of quite a few people. With our ministerial team we had to take more funerals in a short period of time than ever before. And at each funeral we're all reminded again and again about what it means to have a hope in the resurrection to life eternal through Jesus Christ.
Because of these tragic events over the last few months, now at Easter, the reality of the resurrection and the impact it has on our faith becomes even more evident.
Not so long ago there was a landslide in Italy which ruined a graveside and it had an dramatic impact on the community. After it came in the news I remembered a story of a similar event in Belgium many years ago.
A Belgian village was struck by the effect of a kind of earthquake, which was caused by the effects of WWI because of all the bombs, tunnels, trenches and so other many kind of other activities going on, under and nearby their village.
The movement of the earth caused their churchyard to disappear in what we now might call a massive sink-hole. The people of the village went to their local pastor crying for their beloved ones buried in the churchyard to be somehow brought back. The pastor asked his parishioners what they meant with bringing back? They have never been there, the pastor replied; the gospel tells us that with the resurrection of Jesus Christ, death is no longer final and because Jesus was the firstborn from the dead, they were living with Him.
The hope for the resurrection is something which makes us so unique and so much different from the animal world. Being created in the image of God means that we find it difficult to live without hope. And amongst the many things we can hope for, is the hope that death is not the end. Many capture it in nice words like; never forgotten, always in our hearts etc, but the only tangible image we possess that death is not the end is in the resurrection of Jesus Christ. The Easter message is the proclamation that death is not the end.
In a search for evidence for the resurrection of Jesus Christ people have come up with many arguments for and against. For those against they count the faith in Christ’s resurrection as only transcendental and perhaps hidden in mystical experience or pietistic exclusiveness.
On the other side are those who defend the resurrection with all kind of arguments, but are they in the end useful?
There’s a story of Rabbi Chama who was asked a particular question by a Persian king. The Persian king asked for evidence in the Torah about his question, but Rabbi Chama didn’t answer him. Later, pupils of Chama wondered why he didn’t answer the question and asked the Rabbi why he didn’t point the king to certain phrases in the Torah. Rabbi Chama replied: If someone is not convinced by the spirit of the law, then neither is that person convinced by the letter of the law.
If someone doesn’t want to trust in the resurrection of Jesus Christ without scientific arguments first, neither will he or she be convinced by any of other argument.
Now at this Easter I only think about the words of Prof. Braaten, the Lutheran theologian, on which I did my PhD, if we need any evidence for Christ’s resurrection. Braaten wrote: 'Without the Light of the Easter morning, the words and deeds of Jesus of Nazareth would probably have remained eclipsed forever by the blackout of Friday noon'.