Grenz Ricoeur Shelf

Grenz Ricoeur Shelf

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Prayer and Scriptures for Easter Sunday - the Resurrection of Jesus the Liberating King (2014)

O God, who for our redemption gave your only-begotten Son to the death of the cross, and by his glorious resurrection delivered us from the power of our enemy: Grant us so to die daily to sin, that we may evermore live with him in the joy of his resurrection; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen. 
or this 
O God, who made this most holy night to shine with the glory of the Lord's resurrection: Stir up in your Church that Spirit of adoption which is given to us in Baptism, that we, being renewed both in body and mind, may worship you in sincerity and truth; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen. 
or this 
Almighty God, who through your only-begotten Son Jesus Christ overcame death and opened to us the gate of everlasting life: Grant that we, who celebrate with joy the day of the Lord's resurrection, may be raised from the death of sin by your life-giving Spirit; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
Readings from the Revised Common Lectionary:
First Reading:  Acts 10:34-43 or Jeremiah 31:1-6
Psalm: Psalm 118:1-2, 14-24
Second Reading: Colossians 3:1-4 or Acts 10:34-43
Gospel: John 20:1-18 or Matthew 28:1-10 
Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the tomb. So she ran and went to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved, and said to them, "They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him." Then Peter and the other disciple set out and went toward the tomb. The two were running together, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. He bent down to look in and saw the linen wrappings lying there, but he did not go in. Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb. He saw the linen wrappings lying there, and the cloth that had been on Jesus' head, not lying with the linen wrappings but rolled up in a place by itself. Then the other disciple, who reached the tomb first, also went in, and he saw and believed; for as yet they did not understand the scripture, that he must rise from the dead. Then the disciples returned to their homes. 
But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb; and she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had been lying, one at the head and the other at the feet. They said to her, "Woman, why are you weeping?" She said to them, "They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him." When she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to her, "Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you looking for?" Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, "Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away." Jesus said to her, "Mary!" She turned and said to him in Hebrew, "Rabbouni!" (which means Teacher). Jesus said to her, "Do not hold on to me, because I have not yet ascended to the Father. But go to my brothers and say to them, `I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.'" Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, "I have seen the Lord"; and she told them that he had said these things to her. Jn 20:1-18
Lectionary, Lenten, Holy Week, and Easter Reflections on Silent (Holy) Saturday:

Holy Saturday by Roxolana Luczakowsky Armstrong
Among those who don't observe Lent (whether out of ignorance or by choice) and thus tend to treat Easter as a decontextualized, de-storied event rather than the culmination of a season, itself situated in the narration of the life of Christ through the Christian liturgical calendar, or even for those who have discovered its observance afresh but haven't quite yet managed to place Lent within the wider context of the Christian calendar; even while Good Friday and Easter Sunday typically get their due, the in between time tends to get passed over. Perhaps this results from the desire to just get on to the hope of the resurrection. I mean, we know what happens, right? All over social media status updates reverberate one retweet after another, "Its Friday, but Sunday's comin'!" And this is so very true and I get the impulse, but its premature and unfortunate. My great fear is that the rush to Sunday is emblematic of a deep failure in developing the skill of abiding in the midst of suffering, in which the very real and proleptic Christian hope in Christ's resurrection can be illegitimately used to paint over and rush past the also very real experience of still yet unresolved grief and despair. In the rush to get to Easter on Sunday, Holy Saturday gets passed over. The deeper logic of the liturgical calendar doesn't allow this however, following as it does the narrative of Jesus the liberating King.

I prefer to name this Saturday between Good Friday and Resurrection Sunday according to its silence - as Silent Saturday. It is on this day where we can do nothing other than sit in the perhaps awkward silence and wait. There is nothing that can be forced, nothing to be fixed. We can't get to our orienting hope on Sunday except by abiding in the quiet despair, anticipatory silence, and disorienting 'in betweenness' of Saturday. Call this an orientation by disorientation if you wish. In a world filled with hurting people in grief and despair, if the church really wants to be "relevant" it does not need elaborate Easter cantatas, praise bands and lights, and cutting edge preachers (all potentially good things that too easily are shaped by and succumb to the logic of giving 'witness by spectacle' as it were), but rather the formation in abiding in the midst of despair and suffering that Silent Saturday offers. Yes, the hope of Easter Sunday is near and yes, the world needs this hope desperately. But if I may be so bold, without the abiding of Silent Saturday we risk making the hope of Easter into a cliché and have already done so innumerable times. And if I may be so bold again, without the abiding of Silent Saturday we can not hope to be those properly cruciform persons or ecclesial communities which can give fitting witness to the resurrection of our liberating King Jesus. In preparation for this very resurrection hope, are we willing to submit to the demands of Silent Saturday?

To help in the practice of abiding in the silence of Saturday, you will find links to various resources and reflections from this past Holy Week below.

The Brazos Blog: Stanley Hauerwas on Matt 21:1-11.

ABC Religion and Ethics: Which Story? Which King? God's Theatre on the Streets of Jerusalem - a Palm Sunday sermon by N.T. Wright.
Sooner or later this happens to all of us. We start out following Jesus because we think we know the story, we know what sort of king we want him to be - and then things go badly wrong, he doesn't give us what we wanted, and we are tempted to wonder if we've been standing on the wrong side of town, watching the wrong procession. Jesus warned us this would happen: we all have to live through a Holy Week, a Gethsemane, a Good Friday of one sort or another. That happens in personal life, in vocational life, as well as in public life. 
But we were not mistaken. The world today, never mind the church today, urgently needs people, young and old, who will follow Jesus through Holy Week and on into the new Mystery Play which our mediaeval ancestors never imagined, the story of his kingdom of love and peace and justice coming on earth as in heaven. That is the Story; he is the King; and he's looking for recruits, young and old, for a new bit of theatre, coming to a street near you.
The good folks at Missio Alliance have a whole series of posts for Holy Week 2014.

Internet Monk: Holy Week with Zechariah, part 1 and part 2.

Internet Monk: Holy Week Thoughts: A Cross-less Faith.

Internet Monk: Holy Week Thoughts: Another Look – Jesus and the Temple.

Internet Monk: Holy Thursday at the Tea Party.

Tamed Cynic: Which Savior Would You Choose?

Tamed Cynic: Holy Week series with Herbert McCabe.

ABC Religion and Ethics: Will You Draw Near? Nine Meditations for Holy Week by Sarah Coakley (on how theology is done for the church). My advice: read this and then read everything else you can get your hands on by Coakley.
No, when we make this bodily obeisance each year, we are saying in the only way we can - not just with our mind (which is often confused and doubting) but with our whole being - that all our hope resides in something already done, done by the God/Man on a dark hour long ago and once for all. Often we cannot feel it for the darkness, let alone see it. Often we are overwhelmed by our own pain and that of others, our own sin and that of others. But God has done what only God can do, and in the eye of the storm there is already that still place of triumph which John calls Jesus's cosmic "glory," and which he holds out to us also. It is the "finishing" that Jesus does, which is not just a finishing but the reaching of the goal. 
And while we wait in this dead time of Holy Saturday for the coming of the resurrection, therein we place our hope. "It is accomplished" - tetelestai. Amen. (From Meditation 9)
Allan R. Bevere: The Holy Week Journey.

Cataclysmic: A Very Patristic Maundy Thursday (Cyril of Alexandria).

Cataclysmic: Hauerwas & Jenson: “Why Did Jesus Have to Die?”

ABC Religion and Ethics: What's love got to do with it? The politics of the cross by Stanley Hauerwas.
The resurrected Christ is the crucified Christ. Only such a Christ, moreover, can save us. For Jesus is the Christ, being for us this particular man making possible a particular way of life that is an alternative to the world's fear of one like Jesus. 
Christians have no fantasy that we may get out of life alive. Instead we have a saviour who was in every way like us, yet also fully God. Jesus is not 50% God and 50% man. He is 100% God and 100% man - he is the incarnation making possible a way to live that constitutes an alternative to all politics that are little less than conspiracies to deny death. 
Such a saviour does not promise that by being his follower we will be made safe. Rather, this saviour offers to free us from our self-inflicted fears and anxieties. Jesus does so not by making our lives "more meaningful" - though we may discover our lives have renewed purpose - but by making us members of his body and blood so that we can share in the goods of a community that is an alternative to the world.
Faith and Theology: An Unwelcome Kindness - a Maundy Thursday sermon by Kim Fabricius.

Faith in Ireland: How does the cross trouble you? by Patrick Mitchel.

Brian Zahnd: How does "Dying for our Sins" Work?

Experimental Theology: Richard Beck offers a reflection on The Suffering Servant of Isaiah 53.

ABC Religion and Ethics: Why have you forsaken me? by Samuel Wells.
These two astonishing discoveries, the Father's losing the Son for us, and the Son's losing the Father for us, rattle our bones because they make us wonder "Is all then lost?" - not just for us, but even for God. Has the Trinity lost its identity for nothing? If we don't experience a shiver of this greatest of all horrors this night, then we haven't allowed ourselves truly to enter Good Friday. 
But this deepest of fears is what will find an answer in two days' time, when we find that neither sin, nor suffering, nor death, nor alienation has the last word. With is restored at Easter, and, on the day of Ascension, with has the last word. 
Is our alienation from God really so profound that it pushes God to such lengths to reverse and heal it? We don't want to believe it. But here it is, in front of our eyes. That's what the cross is - our cowardice and cruelty confronted by God's wondrous love. Is being with us forever really worth God going to such lengths to secure? 
Now that is, perhaps, the most awesome question of all. It takes us to the heart of God's identity, and the heart of our own. Can we really believe God thought we were worth it? Are our paltry lives worth the Trinity setting aside the essence of its identity in order that we might be with God and incorporated into God's life forever? 
Jesus's cry is one of agony that to reach us he had, for a moment, to let go of his Father. What is our cry? Our cry is one of grief, that we were not with him. It's a cry of astonishment, that he was, despite everything, still with us. And it's a cry of conviction and commitment, that we will be with him henceforth, and forevermore. 
Can you hear the distant strains of the simple words of the Holy Trinity, singing to you this Good Friday, more passionately and fondly and sacrificially than you can ever have known? "Ah only, ah only, ah only, ah only, ah only wanna be with you ..." What are you singing back?
Jesus Creed: A Good Friday Reflection from Scot McKnight. Jesus has died with us, instead of us, and for us and for our benefit.

P.OST: Two narratives of the cross for Good Friday by Andrew Perriman.

Andy Goodliff: Good Friday Reflections.

Below is a six part series on the atonement by Kelly Pigott, a friend and former seminary professor of mine:
The Cross: The Problem of Evil.

The Cross, Part 2: The God Who Sends Tornados and Fails to Protect Soldiers.

The Cross, Part 3: Was Job Right in Declaring God Unfair?

The Cross, Part 4: The Views of Calvin, Arminius, and Aslan Described Somewhat Snarkily.

The Cross, Part 5: What is it Good For?

The Cross, Part 6: They Should Have Sent a Poet.
Internet Monk: Why We Need Holy Saturday.

Ecclesial Theology: Holy Saturday is one of the "Three Days" too by Steven Harmon.

ABC Religion and Ethics: Church in Contradiction: Living in Holy Saturday by Luke Bretherton.
So what does it mean for us to enter into Holy Saturday? I want to suggest that a proper moment in our imaging of God is to be abody in self-contradiction. By living together in self-contradiction, we enter into death. To live in self-contradiction risks death because the truth is threatened and each side risks being destroyed by the other. 
Yet in the midst of the rancour and darkness of this sepulchral time, we must remain together. For while Holy Saturday feels like an eternity we must wait, as one, for new creation from the chaos. However, while waiting we must resist the temptation to render the void god, sanctifying the darkness and mistaking the tomb for a home. New life will come and it is a very different form of life to the one we experience now. 
We can better live through this Holy Saturday of our church when we reflect on how Holy Saturday is, for the most part, our normative condition in this world. As Luther put it, we are simultaneously sinful and sanctified. That is, to be a Christian is to live in self-contradiction, yet be one. It is only in Christ, through the power of the Holy Spirit, that we are healed and perfected by the One who mediates between us and our own self. We do not have the power, wisdom or virtue to do it in our own strength. 
If the church is a form of Christ's presence in the world, we must reckon with being Christ on Holy Saturday.
Christianity Today: Five Errors to Drop from Your Easter Sermon by Andreas J. Köstenberger (Note: see in particular error number 4).

Ekklesia Project: What Is There To Say? by Debra Dean Murphy (on John 20:1-18).

The reality which is the resurrection cannot simply be "known" from within the old world of decay and denial, of tyrants and torture, of disobedience and death. But that's the point. The resurrection is not, as it were, a highly peculiar event within thepresent world, though it is that as well; it is the defining, central event of the new creation, the world which is being born with Jesus. If we are even to glimpse this new world, let alone enter it, we will need a different kind of knowing, a knowing which involves us in new ways, an epistemology which draws out from us not just the cool appraisal of detached quasi-historical or scientific research, but the whole-person engagement - for which the best shorthand is "love." 
That is why, although the historical arguments for Jesus's bodily resurrection are truly strong, we must never suppose that they will do more than bring people to the very questions faced by Peter, or Thomas, or Paul: the questions of faith, hope and love. We cannot use some "objective" historical mode of knowing as the ultimate ground for the truth of Easter. To do so would be like someone who lit a candle to see whether the sun had risen. All knowing is a gift from God - historical and scientific knowing no less than that of faith, hope and love. But remember, the greatest of these is love.
 Χριστός Ανέστη! – Ἀληθῶς Ανέστη!; Christós Anésti! – Alithós Anésti!; Christ is risen! - He Has Risen Indeed!

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