Posts Tagged ‘Resurrection’

May Magazine Article – Saints of Darkness

Wednesday, April 16th, 2014

If I ever become a saint—I will surely be one of darkness, I will continually be absent from heaven—to light the light of those in darkness on earth.

Mother Teresa

Strikingly Mother Teresa sums up the life of Jesus – the outsider – and the calling of any Christian – to be on the outside. Does this make our ancient faith a contemporary reality?

Many people feel excluded and on the outside, or trapped by the goal to remain on the inside. We can see this in different cultures and places: we are told that the economy is recovering but growing inequality is evidenced in busy food banks; the hope of the Arab Spring has been sacrificed on the altar of brutal power; global climate change impacts the poor disproportionately; and education, that great enabler of social mobility, is burdening a generation with huge debts. Surely, in this opaque age, we need more saints of darkness.

Marx claimed that philosophy must move from interpreting the world to changing it. How much more this is true of religion. Too often the church has concentrated on a private faith in a privatised world and has thus provided sticking plaster amid society’s loneliness and greed. Faith becomes compromised and is no longer a motivator for change but a comforter for the status quo. Surely this is not the legacy of the wandering prophet from Nazareth, who was crucified by an oppressive regime?

The contemporary theologian, Pete Rollins, proclaimed, “I deny the resurrection of Christ every time I do not serve at the feet of the oppressed… I affirm that resurrection… when I cry for those who have no more tears left to shed.” In this season of Easter, we are journeying with the resurrected Christ. In the Bible and the church’s calendar this journey leads to Pentecost and the call to be a generous community which is lived in the Spirit. Do we deny this by our actions or lack of actions? Jesus calls us to be yeast in the dough or salt in the meal. He calls us to make a difference. The father of John the Baptist reminds us of this by looking forward to the adult tasks of Jesus and John, “To give light to them that sit in darkness, and in the shadow of death, and to guide our feet into the way of peace.” His words are repeated daily at Morning Prayer.

May your light shine in the darkness.



Thursday, April 10th, 2014

“Do not hold onto me”

Risen Jesus to Mary Magdalene, John 20:17


Before the time of Jesus, if a person wanted to gaze upon God they had to stare into an empty space. The Hebrew scriptures along with the Jerusalem Temple tradition, recall that God was present on the Ark of the Covenant which, as any Indiana Jones fan will recall, contained the 10 commandments. It’s striking that the throne on which God dwelt, flanked by cherubim, was empty.


Moving forward in time to the first Easter morning this emptiness is repeated. The earliest gospel, Mark, ends with the empty tomb. Other gospels recall a risen Jesus whose friends, on the road to Emmaus, fail to recognise as does the close friend Mary Magdalene. The risen Jesus refuses to be contained and appears in a locked room. Why this inability to grasp, recognise or even see the risen Jesus?


The empty tomb and inability to grasp the risen Jesus reflects the understanding that Jesus is not here for our own agenda. He remains present after the crucifixion but also tantalisingly absent in the sense that God, in the risen Christ, can’t be represented or possessed. He is not here to legitimate our preconceived ideas but to expand our limited horizons. The church is founded on hazy communication in and around the tomb on Easter morning: the enigmatic young man in Mark’s account; or the dubious Mary Magdalene of John’s retelling. Upon that communication a community was built. A church community of conversation, prayer, eating and drinking. A church with a Christ shaped future, be that future shaped: by the broken body of the cross and communion; the triumphant body of the resurrection and ascension; or the unrecognised body of the road to Emmaus.


Elisabeth Schüssler recalls the empty tomb of Mark’s gospel, along with the young man directing the disciples to follow Jesus back to the starting place, to Galilee, where they will experience things differently, “The empty tomb does not signify absence but presence: it announces the Resurrected One’s presence on the road ahead… Jesus is going ahead – not going away.”


Wishing you a joyful Easter, Paul