April 11, 2014

Bryan Collins: The truth of the resurrection

One of the big three networks has recently introduced a new television series titled “Resurrection” in which individuals who have long since passed are resurrected. These individuals simply show up one day, returned to their family and friends in the same age and state in which they passed.

A child who drowned along with his aunt is resurrected in a Chinese village and subsequently returned to his parents in a rural Midwestern town. The boy appears as he did the day he drowned but his parents are 20-plus years older.

To the child, it is as if his death and resurrection were a matter of hours or days, but for his parents, they have lived with his death for all these years and their hopes are squelched by the fear of possibly losing this boy all over again.

In the back story of these episodes is this foreboding of some sinister event in the future. The viewer cannot quite be happy for these individuals, for their gain of what was lost, because the characters themselves cannot quite grasp the reality and are again faced with an uncertain future with their loved one.

The question is often posed, if you could have dinner with anyone living or dead and ask them anything you wanted, who would it be and why? The question is a matter of triviality and frivolity but it is almost impossible to ignore because it captures our imagination.

Those of us who have suffered the loss of a loved one would love the opportunity to sit face to face and ask so many unasked questions of our departed loved ones, or simply to feel the warmth of their presence or embrace. Those who believe in the eternal home of heaven believe that we will one day be reunited with our loved ones who have gone on before.

In April, Christian religions will be celebrating Easter, which marks the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the grave. On Sunday, April 20, Christians all over the world will celebrate an empty tomb and a risen Lord and Savior.

Services all over the world will recount the gospels (Good News accounts) of the New Testament, reciting the verses in such books as John, and the women who found the tomb of Jesus empty and the message being carried back to the disciples who ran to the tomb to find it empty. This event left those disciples with many questions, but later they remembered Jesus’ words to them of his departure.

The gospels recount the 40 days where Jesus returned to the disciples, strengthening them and confirming their faith. At the same time, those who did not believe in Jesus’ resurrection began to concoct stories to confirm their disbelief. These same stories and attitudes persist in our world today.

The celebration of Easter provides Christians an opportunity to share the truth of the resurrection. In Acts 17:16-34, Paul had an occasion other than the holiday to share the message of Jesus and the resurrection. There was a special place in the city of Athens where people went to learn and Paul was taken there by certain Stoic and Epicurean philosophers who had encountered this message of resurrection. Verse 32 says that some mocked, some wanted to hear more, and still others joined (Paul) and believed.

As believers in a risen Lord our task is to tell the story knowing that some will mock, others will wrestle with the message for a while, but some will believe. It is for those who will believe that we remain committed to preaching in Jesus the resurrection from the dead (1 Corinthians 15:1-58).

Bryan Collins is minister of the Central Church of Christ in Dalton. His column runs the second Saturday of the month.

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