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Sunday, April 16, 2017

Easter Story

Spirit of Resurrection

Every religious tradition is rooted in mysteries I don't pretend to understand, including claims about what happens after we die. But this I know for sure: as long as we're alive, choosing resurrection is always worth the risk.”
Parker Palmer

Many Christians believe in the actual, physical resurrection of Jesus two days after the crucifixion, and certainly our New Testament stories, if taken literally, reinforce that perception. The resurrection for me, however, has always been symbolic. The Biblical story of Jesus' death and reemergence as something of a supernatural being who walked through locked doors and appeared as an apparition in disguise, is part of the mystical stories surrounding the Christ figure in many other ancient religions.

Not taking the resurrection as a literal, historical event, unique in its meaning, does not diminish its profound significance. This is how Deepak Chopra interpreted it: “The symbolic language of the crucifixion is the death of the old paradigm; resurrection is a leap into a whole new way of thinking.” The Jews at the time of Jesus were under the yoke of Rome, and the poor and disenfranchised could not fully participate in their religion because they could not afford the temple taxes. Even if they were good Jews, they were shut out by both Rome and the Hebrew system. They were saddled with a long list of laws that could rarely be kept, and considered unclean if they could not keep them. Jesus' way of interpreting the scriptures, of teaching his followers a new and more compassionate understanding of them, gave hope to people who were not in the elite establishment. Not only did his new interpretation include them, but it elevated them above the rest. You could call him a populist theologian.

Jesus broke the paradigm of the priestly system. He assumed the role without being ordained or blessed by the hierarchy. He forgave without expectation of penance being paid in the form of blood sacrifice or coin. He fed the hungry with both food and encouragement. He touched and healed any and all, clean and unclean. And he steadfastly walked his own path even though it cost him his life. The spirit of that singular human being remains just as powerful two thousand years later as it was in ancient Palestine. That's the meaning of the resurrection—truly Jesus lives whenever we follow his example.

                                                                 In the Spirit,


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