Mark Kurowski, M.Div.
Spiritual Director, Author, Blogger, Podcaster, Theologian
#The8thDay is the reflection for March 27, 2016, Easter Sunday. What has the Lord unleashed through the rising of Jesus from the dead? It does change things, renews things, undoes pride, undoes hatred, undoes power. Listen here: Download it into your phone. #MSAWordfortheDay # MySpiritualAdvisor #Sermon #Recapitulation #Renewal #OriginalSin #Baptism #BeingJesus #Pride #Forgiveness #Restoration
The 8th Day: A Reflection on Luke 24:1-12
Full Text of Podcast, Open Here
For listener supported My Spiritual Advisor, this is Mark Kurowski with a reflection for Sunday, 3/27/2016 Easter Sunday.
Please pause this audio and read Luke 24:1-12.
We celebrate the God-man who is, not an historical figure who was.
“The Resurrection is the starting point of the Christian faith,” so says theologian Luke Timothy Johnson. Johnson, the professor of New Testament at Atlanta’s Emory University goes on to say this,
In the earliest Christian writings, the conviction that Jesus was alive in a new and more powerful fashion was connected to the experience of the Holy Spirit, so that having this Spirit and being able to confess “Jesus is Lord” went together.
This is the day that is central to all other days. Here is why: the Resurrection makes all things different. Today is the “8th day.” It is the day that Jesus Christ defeated death. It is the day that the sin of Adam is reversed and a great expanse of re-creation begins. Over the course of the next 40 days, Jesus Christ will appear to the disciples as proof the Resurrection, but I get ahead of myself. If there is one day that you should not miss Church, this is it.
When we say that it is the 8th day, it is because we are hearkening back to the 7 days of creation. After those seven days, there was the fall of humanity. In the fall of humanity there were three connections that were ruptured: first, the connection between humanity and God was badly bruised, such that we cannot perceive God correctly, nor can we do his will properly. Secondly, there was the connection between humanity that was distorted. We no longer see people as humans who are in the image and likeness of God, worthy of love because of their mere existence. Lastly, the connection between humanity and proper care of the universe, the environment, was distorted so that we no longer saw living with the land as important as mastering the land for our use.
If you think of it, everything that we do has to do with power. We want control. We want to control our relationship with God. We want to control our relationship with other human beings. We want to master the earth and exploit it for all of its riches like it is a perpetual vending machine of resources.
In the Garden of Gethsemani, Jesus unleashed a series of events that would undo all three of those ruptures. Look, in the Garden of Gethsemani, Jesus said, “Not my will, but yours.” On the cross, Jesus said, “Forgive them for they know not what they do,” instead of “an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.” In the appearance stories, Jesus will reveal a new way of existing in a human body that is not subject to death and therefore he is paving the way for the renewal of all things made from the dust of the earth.
Today is the day that the creation which was done in 7 days and then spoiled is given another life. It is a day of new beginnings for our relationship with the Father, our relationship with each other, and our view of the heavens and the earth upon which we live. So, it is a day that starts a new reality. It is the day when the one who defeated death, gave birth to a new order, a new way of living with each other, and a new way of seeing everything. It is a day of second chances for everyone, a day for new life, new birth. Today is the day that marks what it means to be born again, and again, and again.
It is the Resurrection that is the guiding principle of our communities: we do not worship a man who was just an historical figure. We worship, love, and walk with a man who is alive. We walk in a man who has grafted us into himself through baptism into his resurrection.
One exercise that I use with my clients in spiritual direction is to ask them to walk around their town, or city, visit different parts of it, and look at people and ask themselves, “how would the Father see this? How would Jesus see that person or this person?” What I am asking them to do is to see the world in a way that is empowered by one who is not limited by physical death, not consumed with power, but overflowing with the mercy of one who forgives those who crucify him.
Luke Timothy Johnson was a professor of mine when he was at Indiana University. Later, when I was at Duke, he came there to discuss this thing called the Jesus seminar, which sought to determine which words in the Bible were spoken by the historical Jesus. During this talk he said something that made the seminarians burst our in applause and joy. Johnson said, “The problem with the Jesus seminar is that it seeks to encapsulate an historical man who walked the earth at one time with timeless words. As Christians, we worship a timeless man who came to the earth historically so that we would live by the Word.” Jesus, my friends, is not just an historical figure, he is a present Lord who is with us now, surviving and transforming the worst that humanity can throw at anyone.
In the coming days, his appearances, which we will talk about again and again, will undo what it means to be physical. His appearances will redefine what it means to be in the future. His appearances will redefine physics, redefine relationships, redefine what it means to be a citizen, and redefine what it means to be human.
Yet, the redefinition is more of a restoration and improvement of what it means to be created. On Holy Thursday, the first restoration was between God and humanity: Jesus accepted God’s will he must die a cruel death. The Resurrection of the Dead reversed the brutality of humans toward each other. Although fully capable of calling angels for a just retribution against Pontius Pilate, the Chief Priests, Elders of the Law, Scribes, and Roman Authorities, Jesus accepted a cruel death and turned the other cheek. The restoration and improvement of all creation will culminate in the reconstitution of a new heaven and a new earth where we will live with God forever and ever.
Death shall be no more, because Jesus Christ defeated death. Crying shall be no more because there will be no more abusing one another. Mourning will be no more because we will no longer lose others to the many types of death we tend to follow.
I once was the pastor of a church that had a man who was a long time member who had never been baptized. How that happened I am not sure, but he asked, “what is the one thing that I must believe to be baptized?” This is it: that Jesus Christ was resurrected from the dead.
If you believe in this, then you will have a living Christ in your life. He will be your Lord. Your decisions will be made by listening to him talk to you in prayer, in the Bible, in the community of believers, and in the Eucharist. Your struggles will be made with the knowledge that the one into whom you were grafted in your baptism struggled in the same life and conquered those struggles. You are grafted into one who heals others through the power of the Holy Spirit. You are grafted into one who raised others from the dead and in whom all things are being recreated as we speak. You are included in that recreation because you have been grafted into him by baptism. This is why baptismal fonts frequently have 8 sides, to represent the 8 people saved in the ark during the flood and to represent the 8th day.
Stand up. Rejoice. The Lord has gotten up from the dead, started to recreate everything, and all things are new. The starting point of our faith is this day, Easter Day. For, today, we do not remember an historical figure who once walked the earth. We celebrate and worship a transformed God-man who lives with us every moment, every day. He is risen. He is risen, indeed. Amen.
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