Monday, April 25, 2011

Easter Sunday

We spent our Easter with my husband's family in the mountains of Arkansas. An incredibly beautiful spot in the world. We spent the holiday doing what we always do, eating a delicious meal with family and coloring and hiding eggs. In the churches of Christ, Easter is not observed as a religious holiday, interestingly. There is a concern over elevating one day over another, so in many of the congregations, no one mentions the resurrection on Easter Sunday, except perhaps during comments made before taking communion. I have long thought that was a shame.

On Sunday, I wished to be at a church that celebrated it in the more traditional way. Even though I have my doubts about the historicity of the event, I continue to be drawn to the image of resurrection with the hope, the transformation of suffering, and grace I connect to it. I also would have loved a quiet morning of reflection siting on a rock at his grandparent's farm, contemplating the surrounding mountains with tips hidden in fog. Instead, we attended his grandparent's church.

Everyone was friendly and the boys enjoyed their class, but the sermon left me irritated and deflated. It was a reminder of why many of us have such difficulty maintaining faith when we come from such constricted religious traditions. My current church is a breath of fresh air comparitively. The minister spoke on Galatians 1, where we are exhorted by Paul to reject any gospel preached to us other than what he already preached. I wondered what precisely was meant by gospel and how the original readers or we are to know that what Paul preached was the true gospel. The preacher cautioned against those who study excessively and come up with new gospels. He said to test everything against the Bible, even his own words. I did appreciate the humility in that statement. However, he went on to say that he could direct us to passages of the Bible to teach us the truth without interjecting any of his own interpretation. Though I grew up hearing such comments regularly, I now am surprised that anyone thinks that reading doesn't involve the process of interpretation. How else do we make meaning of words on the page? However, it is a comforting sort of belief, to think you can know with absolute certainty what God wants and who He is.

How did you experience Easter?

11 comments:

  1. You are exactly right I think in saying that no one reads the bible without interpreting it. What a minister means is "trust me" and my interpretation. We have some idea what Paul preached from his "authentic" letters, but we are also aware that there were some 4 strains of Christian teachings emanating from the area, a couple of them coming from Antioch and from James in Jerusalem as well as Peter. It is hard to know which one is "correct". More learning, not less is I think the only way to make a reasoned judgement as to what the "real" Gospel is and was. And of course as we become more enlightened creatures, we will continue to "interprete" in the light of our increasing awareness. Blessings...glad you had a lovely day.

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  2. Sherry,
    What were the significant differences in these strains of Christian teaching?

    I agree that not only greater learning is important to our judgement, but a meta awareness of the interpretive process.

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  3. We ended up visiting an emerging church that is quite a drive for us, but it just doesn't feel right. We are newcomers, which makes it doubly hard, being both an introvert and a doubter. I would have liked to have had a church with which to explore these questions together.

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  4. I went to my home church. The music was fantastic, but the sermon...well...I'll reserve that for it's own special post. Let's just say it was different. :)

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  5. Hi,

    I didn't go to any service for Easter this year. My husband went to our local Orthodox church the evening before (midnightish). I didn't go as I had been cooking, writing a paper and fighting off a horrible cold.

    We drove to my brother's house Sunday morning which is why we didn't go to our "home" church. We had a nice dinner and it was great to see family. I like them.

    I didn't think too much about where I belong spiritually. Today (monday) for reasons I won't get into I wonder if there's a church who would take me if they knew what I really think about things. I wish I could believe the way I used to. But I don't.

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  6. LikeAChild,
    Sorry the church wasn't a good fit. I have been interested in the emergent church concept. We visited another church last week in Memphis and it is an awkward experience, being the newbie.

    D'Ma,
    Don't you love "interesting" sermons? :) They make good blog posts anyway.

    IsToo,
    Glad you got to be with family. Glad you like them too! :) Hope your cold is better. I'd be interested sometime in hearing how your beliefs have changed over time.

    It sounds like we need to start our own congregation over the internet: The First Church of Doubters and Seekers and Wrestlers and Wonderers! :)

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  7. We did Easter baskets. (The big winner was my wife’s where she received a watering can in the shape of a small pig.) We hid eggs. (found all but one.) Ate a hearty meal of prime rib (cooked by yours truly.) Watched “The Incredibles.”

    Didn’t think about Zombie Jesus at all, except an occasional reminder when reviewing Facebook status updates from friends/relatives.

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  8. DagoodS,
    What a coincidence, my kids watched Incredibles too (albeit while traveling). I like your family's idea of giving everyone Easter baskets. Only the kids get them in our family.

    IsToo,
    I thought you'd be interested to know that we have carried on a tradition we learned at your home the year we celebrated Easter with you. Remember when your Russian friends taught us the traditional children's game of cracking eggs together on Easter to see which egg cracked and which didn't? The boys enjoyed showing the extended family how to play the game.

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  9. DoOrDoNot,

    My husband will be pleased to know that the boys are keeping up the tradition!:-)

    Yes, sign me up for the internet congregation!:-) I like it.

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  10. I have a question. I think you've done a lot of research about the resurrection.

    In my faith struggles lately I've tried to find some glimpse of something real AND supernatural to hold on to, while much is crumbling away. If Jesus rose from the dead after 3 days being dead, that would be something to hang your hat on!

    Another way to say it is I have been rigorously trying to dismantle all my beliefs that don't have a really sound foundation. Not much is left.

    I am fairly familiar with the standard arguments for the resurrection... For example, 12 disheartened and disillusioned disciples turn around and set the world on fire with their proclamation that Jesus resurrected. I guess that's the main proof I'm familiar with, come to think of it. But it's a big one! Especially considering that many of them seemed to be willing to die for this belief. (Paul is a special case because he was not around in the 40 days after the resurrection, but claimed to have a supernatural revelation of the risen christ. That doesn't hold as much water for me.)

    So, my question is, what are the arguments against the historicity of the resurrection? You can either give me a summary, or point me to web sites or books, although I'd prefer the cliff notes version!

    You can respond here, and I'll try to remember to check comments, or you can email me at evangelicallyincorrect@gmail.com. Or both.

    I'm just hoping you can save me some time!

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  11. evangelically incorrect,
    DagoodS has studied far more than I and would be a better one to answer this question. You may want to type in some terms in the search bar of his blog to see some good articles on this topic, actually.

    The cliff notes version from my limited study would be that there is no way to prove the resurrection. We know that Jesus died and that his body couldn't be found. That's it. We know disciples had some post mortem experiences and that they were outspoken about their faith. They seemed to believe passionately in what they taught. Where the die for a lie argument runs into issues is the fact that people die for erroneous beliefs all the time. This argument does not speak to the possibility that they had some spiritual experience which they understood as Jesus risen and were willing to die for. DagoodS will tell you that the evidence for the apostles dying for their beliefs is actually far more scant than tradition indicates. He has some good articles on that. Now, N.T. Wright would argue that the disciples would have distinguished between a vision and seeing a corporeal being. I liked reading the Wright/Crossan debate on this topic.

    To me the evidence is inconclusive. I think it takes faith to be in the resurrection. Which is what the Bible teaches anyway, right?

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