Some Easter Poetry

Resurrection is about me!
I always sort of knew that.
Why else would I care about it?

And resurrection is not about life after my death.
Resurrection happens now.
Was that not so for Mary, Peter, and Paul?

So what was it that had died in them or me.
that made a resurrection possible?
What died was who I thought I was,
what I thought reality was,
what I thought thought was,
what I thought WAS was and IS is.

Yes, everything had died!
Is that not what death is?
Gone, gone, gone of everything!

Resurrection is what is left
when everything has died!
Leaving plain me, plain reality,
plain thought, plain plainness.
human essence, profound humanness
Holy Spirit, Body of Christ, the REAL ME.

This grand GIFT
is given at the tomb.
No wonder those women in Mark’s narrative
fled from the tomb in terror
saying nothing at all to anyone.

Let us picture these women in the resurrection story in Mark’s “GoodNews” story. They came to this tomb with spices to honor the body of their mentor. Their male companions had already fled to Galilee. Let us further imagine that these women discovered, instead of one more dead body, that they were now, in their own bodies, the resurrection of Jesus. They were Jesus—not Jesus exactly, but the life that was in Jesus was now seen as their own life.

Jesus is the Christ in the sense that this event opened to humankind our authenticity. The event of Jesus—his teaching, healing, being, and yes his dying a most disgraceful death that crushed all the expectations of his followers—resulted in those followers discovering that this destruction of their temporally-based expectations was the transformation they had followed Jesus to find. Jesus had manifested our human essence, our true being, our profound humanness. So this Jesus manifestation was not dead, but was risen indeed in a continuation of living bodies, beginning with these women and moving on down to those of us who join this body of living.

As these followers of Jesus now faced one another and told one another what had happened to them, they saw the life of Jesus bodily presence among them. They themselves were “the Body of Christ” as Paul came to talk about it. They were according to Paul “in Christ” because they had been “crucified with him and thereby raised up with him to newness of life.” Indeed, by this reconciliation with Eternal Reality, they were Jesus, and thereby, like Jesus, they were now assigned to be the reconcilers of the rest of humanity.

Here is an astonishing aspect of this “crucifixion/resurrection” event as it occurs in human lives—the temporal qualities of their lives had not changed. They were still the same personalities living in the same religious culture under the same Roman oppression. Nothing temporal had changed. What had changed was their relationship to everything temporal and their relationship with the Eternal that we humans meet in the temporal flow of events.

The temporal changes that we associate with this “new birth” come after this temporally contentless transformation, not before it, and not with it. And these changes in our temporal lives are whatever we choose to change based on this new-found freedom that we enjoy with this totally transformed state that has changed nothing, except our relationship to everything.

It is understandable why people in the first century and every other century have been offended by such a “Messiah” as Jesus. According to many of Paul’s distractors, the Messiah was supposed to change things, certainly not get crucified, a most disgraceful and fruitless waste of whatever good qualities this man Jesus may have had. And it was certainly true that Jesus left the Roman Empire intact.

Nothing was changed, yet those who revered Jesus as the Christ were transformed in such a total way that what they did thereafter did change things in Palestinian, in other Mediterranean places, and eventually in the entire Roman Empire. Many of these changes can appear odd to us, changes we may need to do over, and indeed have already been done over many times. Changes in our temporal societies and personalities are never final. Even religious practices become out of date, corrupt, and open to revision. It is surprising to me how many big temporal changes were made in the first-century of the Christian religion.

So, here is an astonishing and enduring truth: the Jesus-Christ revelation is not about changes in our social fabrics and personalities, but about a much more massive revolution in our whole relationship to all the temporal matters of human living. Because this transformation is temporally contentless, this massive revolution in human living can take place in any human life at any time and place, within whatever social content and whatever personal content is transpiring.

Understood in this way the Jesus Christ revelation is not about a religious invention, or a religious reform, or a religious or cultural anything. It is about a transformation of our entire relationship to human living. It is also about the transformation of our entire relationship with the Eternal that is meeting us in temporal event.

“Crucifixion/resurrection” is a general type of happening that applies to minor events as well as momentous events. For example, when I was in my early forties undergoing a mid-life crisis, having already changed my vocation and remarried, I was 46 pounds overweight, out of condition, my gums were bleeding, and my teeth were falling out. My new dentist challenged me to radically change my diet. This kicked off a crucifixion/resurrection happening in my life.

After that happening I was still 46 pounds overweight, out of condition, my gums were still bleeding, and my teeth were falling out. But everything was transformed. Something had happened to my relationship with eating, with having bad teeth, with neglecting exercise and common sense eating and other practicalities. This is the sort of experience that crucifixion/resurrection is—nothing is changed, but everything is transformed.

Changes did follow as I attempted to live the new context of having died to some old attitudes. And that death had left me with a slightly deeper experience of my essential humanity. I had already had other crucifixion/resurrection experiences before this dietary event. Some of them were even more consequential, and I have had other very consequential crucifixion/resurrection experiences after that dietary transformation, but all of these transformations have the same basic character: no change in the temporal content, but everything was transformed. Living out of the crucifixion/resurrection experience does change things, yet the transformation experience itself is nothing more than the gift of WHAT IS that is given to me or you from Eternity, acting in the midst of my or your temporal ongoingness.

Do I have a right to use the profound symbols of crucifixion/resurrection for interpreting what can seem to be trivial events? Yes, I find support for this in Mark’s narrative. On every page of Mark’s story we see Jesus as an exemplar of what living out of the crucifixion/resurrection foundation looks like and how this healing can happen to ordinary people who are struck by this revelation.

I am in the process of rewriting a detailed commentary of the Gospel of Mark. I have completed the last three chapters on crucifixion and resurrection. Here is the downloading code for those pages: