I believe in God the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth. And in Jesus Christ, his only Son our Lord; who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died and buried…. on the third day… wait for it… He rose again.
I believe (as does N.T. Wright, but more importantly, the Scripture) that Jesus bodily, physically, and literally rose from the dead. I revel in that; am in wonder about that; am often stirred to weep for joy as that realization sweeps over me; and yet, am simply overwhelmed when someone shares how that is a new experience in their life. Christ’s resurrection is so real to me, so embedded in me that this Easter as in so many Easters of late, I don’t argue about it… I simply celebrate. There are good evangelistic and missiological reasons to share the faith and expect good vibrant fruit in the form of clear and powerful conversions. At Easter, I seek from the Lord a greater sense of wonder. I need to experience His resurrection presence, power, and joy, not argue about it. I agree with the following writers:
I asked for wonder. And you gave it to me.
Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel
Preach the gospel at all times –if necessary, use words.
St. Francis of Assisi
(Testifying and affirming in my heart and mind the importance of both words and a sense of wonder in the believer, which in itself speaks volumes.)
I am in Armenian on my feet and a Calvinist on my knees.
Charles Haddon Spurgeon, Baptist Preacher
All these folks speak parts of the truth. I so engage the resurrection of Jesus that I tire of the constant arguments at Easter that try to make me believe what I already believe.
This Easter I will mark well an empty cross, an empty tomb; and then with a longing and yet overflowing heart, as I hear the Easter greeting I will sing until I can no longer speak. My hoarseness will be a metaphor for God’s hope for me; the hope that I continue to learn to be silent, so He can speak more directly.
God wants your questions not your answers.
Trinity Baptist Church sign in Vancouver, BC
If God is your co-pilot, change seats.
Sign from an Anglican church in Sechelt on Kerry’s and my journey to Caryn Stelck’s mum’s funeral.
I want to share one story, which God allowed me to experience one Palm Sunday morning. A story from which today’s title arises. This happened about ten years ago as I was walking to church. The cherry blossoms in Vancouver bring an incredible dose of allergies into my life. I secrete from virtually every orifice in my head (quite certain my ears are involved).
I would always finish my sermon on Thursday night, then spend time Saturday night and Sunday morning wrestling in the Spirit, searching for what God wanted me to share.
As I left the house my hay fever got worse. I began to feel incapacitated. I was wrestling with deciding which of two stories I should use to end my sermon. Little did I know God had a story in store for me that I had not prepared… He had. As I walked to church I encountered a canopy of cherry blossoms. It was going to be an allergy-drenched running of the gauntlet as it were, so I lowered my head and continued on. As my head was lowered, I could only see a dozen feet ahead of me and then only about a couple of feet off the ground. A pair of men’s shoes came into sight so without looking up I moved off to the side… the shoes followed me… blocking my path wherever I tried to walk. I was being blocked, stopped, and sabotaged in the midst of a pollen disaster the like of which I had never known. These cherry trees were the enemy, not the examples of God’s creation and wonder, a nuisance and an arrogance… a wonder I needed to recognize.
As I looked up, I saw a man of Japanese ancestry (indeed, the country of origin of all these trees). He clearly could speak no English, and I clearly could speak no Japanese. We didn’t need to speak a common language, for our common vocabulary was clearly wonder. Through my streaming, allergic eyes, I looked up on a man whose hands were raised in appreciation of the beauty of the cherry blossoms, whose face was radiantly bathed in a smile, and out of whose mouth came a simple “ahhhhhhhhhhhhhh.” I smiled back and echoed his “ahh”. Still, sodden with allergic symptoms, I made it to church that morning. I had been given the gift of wonder from someone who did not speak my language, but who the Spirit of God had made plain that the most important language is the language and expression of wonder. It will also, one day, be because of the resurrection of my Lord…. this wonder will also be the language of eternity.
So sometimes words are important and I will echo with others “He is risen! He is risen indeed!”
As for the glorious remainder of it all, this Easter I seek wonder. And I know He shall give it to me.