Resurrection takes many forms

I write a monthly article for the local paper. This is my March 2017 article.

Now that Spring has sprung and the trees are getting their leaves and some flowers are starting to bloom, I’ve been thinking a lot about resurrection. Resurrection is a tricky thing. In the Gospels, there many different experiences of the mystery.

In Luke’s gospel, two of Jesus’ followers are on the way back home after his execution, on the road to Emmaus, when a stranger comes up to them, starting a conversation. They tell the story of Jesus and share their deep grief at losing not only their friend, but their hopes for the new Kingdom of God. They invite the stranger to have dinner with them, and it is when the stranger breaks bread that a feeling of recognition comes over them. (Luke 24:28:35). Resurrection is experienced in the communal breaking of bread.

In the Gospel of John, Mary is at Jesus’ tomb and thinks she is talking to a gardener who has whisked Jesus’ body away. It’s only after Jesus says Mary’s name that she recognizes him. (John 20:11–18). Resurrection is experienced when we listen, and are able to hear God speak to us.

In Mark’s gospel, the women who go to the tomb find only a young man there. In this gospel, Jesus tells people there will be no sign of the age of the Messiah (Mark 8:12, for example), the gospel writer leaves us with “no sign.” Mark wants us, the listener to his Gospel, to experience the resurrection of Jesus as a matter of faith, not proof (thanks to New Testament scholar Bernard Brandon Scott for this insight).

The story of resurrection that resonates with me the most was shared with me by my preaching professor, and it’s in the Gospel of Matthew. Jesus is he’s teaching and telling parables. In one story, those who help the “king” are called “blessed.”

Wondering when they might have helped the king, they ask, “when was it that we saw you?”

“Well, when I was hungry, you gave me something to eat. When I was thirsty, you gave me something to drink. When I was a stranger, you welcomed me. When I was naked, you gave me clothing. When I was sick, you took care of me. When I was in prison, you visited me.”

A friend reminded me of a quote by renowned German theologian, Jurgen Motlmann, “…the presence of God is experienced…in and through the recognition of others.”

When I am of service to others, I learn more about God, more about grace, more about hope, more about love. My idea and understanding of God expands when I “break bread” with other people — when we share our meals and when we share our experiences, our trials, our dreams with one another. When I can let go of my pre-conceived ideas about what I think “should” be, and let God tell me what “could” be, my spirit is lighter and I am better able to hear God’s voice, encouraging met to live into all that God wants me to be.

My prayer is that we are always able to notice resurrection in unconventional, unexpected places. In the coming days, months, weeks — how will you experience resurrection?