Thursday, June 12, 2008

This Week's Sabbath School lesson: the resurrection of Christ

Two thoughts on this week's Sabbath School lesson -- the first from Bishop N. T. Wright, and the second from John Donne.

The first is drawn from Bishop Wright's article, "Kingdom Come: the public meaning of the Gospels," which appeared in the June 17, 2008 issue of The Christian Century.
[Contemporary scholars tend to divide their attention,] focusing either on Jesus' announcement of the kingdom and the powerful deeds -- healing, feastings and so on -- in which it is instantiated, or on his death and resurrection. The Gospels have thus been seen either as a social project with an unfortunate, accidental and meaningless conclusion, or as passion narratives with extended introductions. . . .

The resurrection of Jesus is to be seen not as the proof of Jesus' uniqueness, let alone his divinity -- and certainly not as the proof there is life after death . . . but as the launching within the world of space, time and matter of that God-in-public reality of new creation called God's kingdom . . .
But perhaps John Donne said it best:
RESURRECTION, IMPERFECT.
by John Donne

SLEEP, sleep, old sun, thou canst not have repass'd,
As yet, the wound thou took'st on Friday last ;
Sleep then, and rest ; the world may bear thy stay ;
A better sun rose before thee to-day ;
Who—not content to enlighten all that dwell
On the earth's face, as thou—enlighten'd hell,
And made the dark fires languish in that vale,
As at thy presence here our fires grow pale ;
Whose body, having walk'd on earth, and now
Hasting to heaven, would—that He might allow
Himself unto all stations, and fill all—
For these three days become a mineral.
He was all gold when He lay down, but rose
All tincture, and doth not alone dispose
Leaden and iron wills to good, but is
Of power to make e'en sinful flesh like his.
Had one of those, whose credulous piety
Thought that a soul one might discern and see
Go from a body, at this sepulchre been,
And, issuing from the sheet, this body seen,
He would have justly thought this body a soul,
If not of any man, yet of the whole.

Desunt Caetera

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