Thursday, 20 April 2017

Easter Thursday

Readings: Acts 3:11-26; Psalm 8; Luke 24:35-48

Peter and John are witnesses. They witness to the events that have happened, the condemnation and execution of Jesus about which everybody knows already, but then also to his resurrection. This is the specific task of the apostle: to be a witness of the resurrection.

It obliges them to become interpreters also, teachers of a new way of reading the scriptures. The Law, the Prophets, the Psalms, the promise to Abraham, the covenant with Moses, the teaching of the prophets from Samuel onwards ... everything has to be re-considered in the light of what has happened. We are familiar with the idea that Jesus' life and ministry takes on fresh meaning when we read it back in the light of the resurrection. What the apostles teach us is that the whole history of God's dealings with the people takes on fresh meaning when it is re-read in the light of the resurrection.

Just as there is continuity and discontinuity in the disciples' experience of the Risen Lord there is continuity and discontinuity in their understanding of Israel's story. Sometimes they recognised him and he was a familiar figure to them. At other times they failed to recognise him or he even filled them with fear and foreboding. The age old promises to Israel: are they fulfilled or superceded in the resurrection of Jesus? Is what happened continuous with what had gone before or discontinuous with it? To this question we must reply 'both': there is continuity in the fulfillment of the promises, there is discontinuity in the radically unexpected way in which they have been fulfilled.

We can make a further move and say that the life of the Church and any life lived in the light of this faith will also be characterised by continuity and discontinuity. Sometimes things will unfold in the ways we have come to expect from what we have experienced already of God's way with us. But sometimes things will unfold in ways we never expected or suspected. There is no end to the ingenuity of the 'God of surprises' who is ever creative even while being ever faithful.

It means that the Resurrection is not simply a matter of leaving what is 'here' in order to be 'there' but is a transformation of what is 'here', this body, these relationships, this behaviour, here and now. It is not just a question of waiting for some future illumination but of new meaning, new light, new possibilities for where we now are and who we now are. It is a question of re-thinking our past, reading it back in the light of the resurrection, so as to live a new life now and on into the future.

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