Alleluia! Christ is risen!
In Flannery O’Connor’s short story, "A Good Man Is Hard to Find," on a trip that detours into the Georgia woods, a family encounters a murderous criminal known only as "the Misfit." As he cold-heartedly and systematically shoots to death each member of the family, the Misfit keeps talking about Jesus. He tells the frightened grandmother, "If Jesushas been raised from the dead, he shouldn’t have. He done thrown everything out of kilter. He should have stayed dead."
In rising from the dead, Jesus has indeed "done thrown everything out of kilter."
A Christian is someone who believes that God raised Jesus from the dead. And it’s a belief that has always been in contention. Thomas is by no means unusual but a reminder of the patent absurdity of such a thing happening. First century people may not have been scientists, but they all knew that dead people don’t rise from the dead.
And in every age, belief in the Resurrection of Jesus must overcome a strong prior prejudice against the possibility of such a thing happening, because it runs counter to our expectation based on everyday experience. The resurrection is a jolt.
So today I want to assert before you a few core, central things. We believe, against our natural tendencies to disbelieve, in the bodily resurrection of Jesus. The entire structure of the Christian faith stands or falls upon the fact of Jesus being raised by God from the dead. "Who is God? What is God up to in the world? Who are we as children of God? What are we supposed to be up to?" All these questions are answered through the resurrection: God is the one who raised Jesus from the dead, who gives life to the dead and calls into existence things that do not exist. And Christians have no other God
than the one who creates new life from the dead.
Without the resurrection, we are without hope. With the resurrection, through all the difficulties of life, we can go on because we know the end of the story. The end is in the strong hands of God who raised Jesus from the dead. Without the resurrection we have nothing to say to a hurting, unsteady world.
With the Resurrection we have truly good news.
Christianity is founded on a fact, an astounding, unexpected, but nevertheless real event: the Resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.
All human history, all human destiny, is seen in the light of this event, the core, founding, irreducible event upon which our faith rests.
"He done thrown everything out of kilter."
Christ is risen indeed! Alleluia!
The Rev. Robert Rimbo
Metropolitan New York Synod - ELCA