Easter Reflections in the NY Times

Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

Tish Harrison Warren writes:

Whatever else Christianity is, it is an assertion of historic fact. The New Testament invites us to examine the evidence. Its claim of a bodily resurrection was as strange and impossible — as Updike says, “monstrous” — when it was first made 2,000 years ago as it is now.

It would be so much more acceptable if Easter were merely a ritual communicating religious ideals, teaching us to cultivate the better angels of our nature. But if Easter is only an abstraction, it doesn’t mean much to me. I’m with the Apostle Paul who wrote and the billions of Christians around the world who profess, “If Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile.”…

But at the end of the day, there’s this unflinching claim to reality: an empty tomb, as Updike says, a stone rolled back, “not papier-mâché, not a stone in a story.” And I, like every person who encounters this claim, have to decide if Jesus’ earliest followers died for something they knew to be a lie….

Updike reminds us that if Jesus was not raised from the dead, the church is a lie, but Hopkins tells us that if he was and is raised, then absolutely everything can be changed and redeemed — even shipwrecks, even death….

The Resurrection happening in truth, in real time, is the only evidence that that love in fact outlasts the grave, that what is broken can be mended, and that death and pain do not have the final word.

Esau McCaulley writes:

It’s common, even in Christian circles, to think of the afterlife as a disembodied bliss in a paradise filled with naked baby angels tickling the strings of harps as our souls bounce from cloud to cloud. But Christianity has never taught a disembodied future in heaven. Our beliefs are more radical.

We believe that one day the entire created world will be transformed to become what God always intended it to be: free of pain, death and sorrow…Christians believe that our bodies will be resurrected from the dead to live in this transformed earth. Like the earth itself, these bodies will be transfigured or perfected, but they will still be our bodies…

Part of my birthright as a Black child of the South was grainy footage of Emmett Till’s family fainting at the sight of his disfigured body His mother wanted an open coffin to show the world what anti-Black racism had done to her child. She hoped that seeing such malice would bring repentance, but we humans are frighteningly capable of ignoring the harm we do one another. We refuse to see….

Jesus’ resurrection has implications not just for his body, but for all bodies subject to death. Christians believe that what God did for Jesus, he will do for us. The resurrection of Jesus is the forerunner of the resurrection of our bodies and restoration of the earth. There are endless debates and speculations about what type of bodies we will have at the resurrection. Will we all receive the six-packs of our dreams? Will we revert to the bodies we had in our 20s? I do not find these questions that intriguing. What is compelling to me is the clear teaching that our ethnicities are not wiped away at the resurrection. Jesus was raised with his brown, Middle Eastern, Jewish body.

When my body is raised, it will be a Black body. One that is honored alongside bodies of every hue and color. The resurrection of Black bodies will be the definitive rejection of all forms of racism. At the end of the Christian story, I am not saved from my Blackness. It is rendered everlasting. Our bodies, liberated and transfigured but still Black, will be the eternal testimony to our worth.