Sunday, April 11, 2010

Bodies R Us

Emmaus by Emmanuel Garibay (Jesus is in red.)

(Instead of a sermon, I preached a brief reflection on the scripture so there would be time for all the religious jokes folks brought to church with them. I didn't think you'd mind. :-)

John 20: 19 – 31
******** United Church of Christ
April 11, 2010 – Holy Humor/Bright Sunday

In this post-modern age there are many who do not know what to make of the resurrection. Of course there are those of us who never question it, who believe Jesus’ earthly body was raised from the dead and that Jesus in his resurrected body could move through locked doors and eat and have scars because the Bible says it is so, because faith is a mystery. And this faith, this mystery gives millions of people hope, comfort and strength, which shall not be taken away from them.

But what about folks, perhaps you, who just can’t go there, whose intellect tells them otherwise, who have trouble with all this supernatural stuff, including the virgin birth and the miracles? Marcus Borg and John Dominic Crossan, two leading Jesus scholars, are of the mind that it doesn’t do to ask whether the stories in the Bible really happened but rather what meaning do they have. They invite us to read the Bible as a parable, and generally we don’t ask whether a parable really happened in order for the parable to have meaning. The resurrection can have meaning without trying to figure out whether or not it really happened. I don’t know about you but that gives me a great deal of hope, comfort and strength.

So, what’s the meaning of this resurrection story about Jesus and Thomas? The simplest one is that it is an affirmation of bodies, of living and breathing in this fragile, earthy, miraculous, burdensome, wonderfully, painfully sensing body. Resurrection isn’t experienced only intellectually (“Hey, Thomas, we saw Jesus and you didn’t!”) or spiritually or metaphorically or literally or physically but in all these ways and more. The meaning of a bodily resurrection is that we can’t experience resurrection if we’re not connected to a body—either our physical, individual one or a collective body, like a church—the Body of Christ.

Thomas couldn’t accept the resurrection because he hadn’t experienced the risen Christ with the body of disciples nor had he seen and touched Jesus’ body himself. He wanted his own resurrection experience, with his friends, in the flesh.

Today, and every day, is our resurrection experience—in our bodies, in our bellies, in our laughter and in our joy—and in Christ’s body, in the church. Our bodies were given the ability to feel a multitude of experiences so we could choose which ones we want to experience more often than others. We can try out despair and anger and sadness; we were not meant to live in these but from these it is possible for us be resurrected. We were created for joy and laughter and hope, a wonderful communion of good things to enjoy and to share with others—in the flesh, in the Body of Christ.

So go on, let your sides ache for joy—Jesus did. Amen.

An extra bonus in honor of Holy Humor Sunday--Mr. Deity and the Skeptic. Enjoy!

No comments: