A Christian Perspective on Resurrection

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Reverend Dr. Morar Murray-Hayes

Reverend Dr. Morar Murray-Hayes

The Reverend Dr. Morar Murray-Hayes is the Minister of Maple Grove United Church, and is a member of the Interfaith Councill of Halton. A chatty extrovert with a conversational preaching style, a multi-tasker who is a “multi-worrier” when it comes to caring about people’s problems, and a leader who treasures teaming with the lay people in her church, Morar says that at Maple Grove she has experienced “a deeper level of ministry than I thought possible.” Anyone who has personally received Morar’s deeply compassionate caring and wise counsel will testify to what an inspirational, healing and encouraging ministry it is.

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Jesus suffers on the cross and dies. He is buried in a cave-like tomb. Three days later, Mary from the town of Magdala, went to the tomb. The tomb was empty. Jesus was raised from the dead. She ran to tell the others, and two came with her. They went into the tomb and saw the wrappings for the body, but no body. They went home.

But Mary stayed behind in the garden, weeping. It was then that she encountered Christ, not recognizing him until he called her by name. John 20.1-18

This is a story that baffles my brain. When presented with this story of Jesus coming to life from death, we can dip our toes into different pools of thought.

Is the story of the resurrection: A Story, My Story, or Our Story?

A Story
If it is a story, then we can dispassionately listen to different interpretations of the resurrection. We can think about the story as scholars.

People, who lived in the first few hundred years after the event, spent a lot of time trying to figure out whether what happened was a bodily resurrection where the same body came back to life, or a spiritual resurrection where a spiritual body was what came back to life.

Among many, Augustine and Origen wondered just how the bodily resurrection worked.

Origen thought you would get all your missing parts back — tonsils, appendixes, limbs, even fingernails and hair, which would be kind of icky, if he didn’t explain that it would be more like a seed sprouting and growing into a stalk of wheat — different but maintaining its identity with the seed.

Augustine thought you would get a better body in heaven than on earth – basically he thought you would get the body you wanted in heaven. Wooee!

There have been many other views: a popular view is that the resurrection was totally spiritual, not physical at all.

We can think about these things as scholars and find each, or all perspectives interesting, even intriguing. That’s how we treat the Resurrection if we think of it as a story.

If we see Easter as something external to our own lives, the power of Jesus’ story to transform our inner experience is lost. It becomes like any story.

But this is not just any kind of story. It’s one whose truth takes us beyond the known into another realm of understanding. Perhaps it is more than a story: perhaps it’s my story.

My Story
As I think of the Easter story as my story, it can have power over my life for the better. But there are dangers to making it my story. The temptation is to find one interpretation that has meaning to me and stick to it. I can become rather dogmatic about my interpretation. ‘This is what it means to me,’ can quickly become ‘this is what it should mean to you.’

One step farther is to decide that people who don’t believe my way, can’t participate in Christ’s resurrection. .

If it is my story, then I am convinced my perspective is the right one, the only one, and I will reject other views and perhaps even other people for their wrong opinions. My story becomes a way of excluding people of different understandings, different faiths. I might fight to convince others I am right.

I don’t believe I can force you to ‘see’ the resurrection in one particular way. And why would I? That’s not empowering you to have a renewed vision of yourselves.

Our Story
However, if it is our story, then it is a story we share.

You have your family story. A wonderful opportunity to reach back into the past and learn something about who your ancestors were. Often it’s possible to connect your own story to their’s – the musician in your history whose gift you share, how your parents met, your birth story, when you met …

We don’t have much difficulty in seeing that our Jewish friends are defined by their story: Their story of Exodus — escaping slavery and death, as God guides them through the wilderness to the promised land. We have been invited, along with our anglican friends at St. Simon’s to observe the ritual telling of their next Exodus story: the story of Holocaust in concentration camps. Their reading of the names of those who have died — recalling and remembering helps them to have the courage to continue to believe and to survive. This is their family story. It has formed who they are.

We have our family story — the death and resurrection of Jesus. If it is our story, it defines who we are.

Because I live, you also will live,” Jesus tells the disciples.

His ministry had not been merely a story for spectators to admire, question or debate;
His ministry had not been a story for people to exclude folk or to fight over.

Jesus’ story had touched real people’s lives. His resurrection story is life to be shared between Christ and all those for whom he died.

The suffering, death and resurrection of Christ are about your life and mine.

His Story is our Story! His Life is Our Life! Our life is His Life!

The resurrection shows us the way in which life itself works.

Every fresh step we take — from being born to leaving home, to choosing a partner or career — is itself a form of dying to the past. Each occasion of spiritual grownthh, from losing a prejudice to gaining fresh insight into ourselves or another or the world, involves a dying to the old self and a rebirth to the new.

The mystery and the hope of the resurrection is that the Risen Christ moves toward those who need him. He does not shrink back from our pain, our death, but lives to bring healing and restoration in the midst of it, just as he had throughout his ministry. You are who you are because of your story. We are who we are because of our story! Because he lives, we also will live.

Christians gathering on Easter Sunday all over the world witness to the fact that the Easter Story has become our story!

If it is our story, then it has power to transform our lives.
The death and resurrection of Jesus, whatever way we understand it, was the supreme act of sacrificial love.
Jesus stands between love and evil;
Jesus overcomes the darkness;
Jesus forgives and reconciles;
Jesus restores us to new life.

Jesus raises us to be who we are called to be.

This is the love we celebrate at Easter. This is our story!
Jesus’ resurrection: this is the love that raises us to new life.

Paul said, “the One who raised Christ will raise you.” (Romans 6.7)

What we were powerless to overcome, Jesus has overcome.
This is the love searching for us, knocking on our hearts, standing between us and evil, overcoming the darkness.

I pray that our story will raise you up to be the person you were always created to be.


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