Chapter & verse: Matthew 28: 1-10
David Downing reflects on the many faces of resurrection
The Gospel resurrection stories give us great drama – especially in this account from Matthew. An earthquake, an angel, a missing body and a meeting with Jesus. Hardly a normal start to the week. But, despite all the drama, there is no account of the resurrection itself. In fact, there’s no account of the resurrection in any of the Gospels. We encounter the risen Jesus, the women’s reactions and, later, the men’s reactions – but nothing of the actual resurrection.
We may celebrate Jesus’ resurrection every Sunday, or perhaps at an Easter sunrise service, or as part of the sharing of bread and wine, but we are left to wonder and imagine. Did resurrection happen in a moment, or was it a process – one that perhaps started on the cross?
In Bruce Springsteen’s autobiography, he talks about resurrection being understood not through the teaching of the local church but by his dad bringing home broken radios and breathing new life into them on his work bench. A process. In the scriptures – whether it’s a reading of the creation story, a journey with Moses or a wilderness retreat – very often, we encounter God through a patient process. Very often, this process is at odds with our society that can often demand an instant fix, instant change, or instant resurrection.
For a while now, I have taken a keen interest in the city of Detroit. A city of such proud history, yet when I visited in 2015, I found it in a mess. It has a population of around 680,000 and around 25% are unemployed. Illiteracy rates are over 45% among adults and children. In some areas, three out of every four students drop out of school. For a while, school children were asked to bring their own toilet paper to school as the schools couldn’t afford it.
Detroit is one of the most dangerous cities in the USA. During my visit, I saw homes burning, a fire service unable to fight fire because of the poor condition of its engines, a mayor trying to overcome corruption, factories standing derelict – good only for drugs and homelessness, and children with no sense of hope or positivity. It was tempting to think of Detroit as a city stuck in perpetual Good Friday. But I also saw resurrection. …
This is an extract from the April 2017 edition of Reform