The past couple days I've been pushing my own meditations on the death of Jesus as far as I have felt comfortable, given textual and theological constraints. Today, we find ourselves as that moment, most impossible to believe or even consider possible, that this same dead Jesus is alive. Churches around the world are chanting, "Christ has risen! He is risen, indeed!"
I don't think most churches really believe it, though.
If they did, we wouldn't be facing all the crises we face. If we really believed that Jesus rose from the dead, we wouldn't worry about whether or not there was prayer in public schools. If we really believed that Jesus lives forever, enthroned next to the Father, reigning with him and the Holy Spirit, we wouldn't hear people who call themselves Christian claiming that this same God was being pushed out of our society and culture. If we really believed that we are baptized into the death and resurrection of Jesus, and are, in the words of St. Paul, a new creation, we wouldn't claim that the sole reason for all this nonsense was so that we could go to heaven when we die.
I don't think most churches really believe in the resurrection any more. The churches are scared, worried, concerned. Some people who call themselves Christian think we need to force people who don't think or believe like they do to mouth empty phrases to a god in whom they place no trust. Some Christians think that the real test of faith isn't accepting the embrace of the crucified and risen Jesus, but ensuring that every fetus makes it to term. Some Christians insist that we need to show our love to some people by telling them they are outside the bounds of God's grace because they love differently than other people.
I don't think anyone who really believes that they will meet Jesus in the sky when they die really believes in the resurrection. I, for one, would want nothing to do with a God who went to all this trouble, said all those neat things and did all those marvelous deeds, died that horrible death only to make sure that a bunch of rich white folk didn't have to continue to mingle with undesirables on some cloud or other in some spiritual afterlife. Such a god isn't worth my time.
Either we start to live as people who understand, at least provisionally, that the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead inaugurates the new creation, or we don't. If we don't, no one is going to force them. All the same, I would much prefer if such people wouldn't call themselves Christian, go around talking about God as if they really understood what they were saying, and getting people to give them money. Either we start to live and work in the faith the New Creation has already begun, that everything we thought was right and true is now over and done with, or we admit we really don't believe all that resurrection nonsense, and go about telling everyone how wrong their lives are.
I am quite tired of weak, cowardly, pusillanimous false Christians who don't really believe in the resurrection. If we believed that Jesus was raised from the dead, what in the world, quite literally, are we afraid of? Declining numbers and giving? That some people might point out all the bad stuff folks in the past have done in the name of God? That some people might laugh at such nonsense? Are we children?
I am quite tired of churches more worried about relevance than they are about resurrection. If God wanted us to be popular, we wouldn't have been told that we are going to be persecuted, tortured and killed for professing the God of the risen Christ. If God wanted us to be successful, there wouldn't be all this talk of prison and being despised. If God wanted us to be rational, reasonable folks, we wouldn't need to be reminded, as St. Paul did, that what we preach is foolishness to the wise.
Today we recall the singular event of Jesus rising from the dead. All that has ever been, or will ever be is now changed. We who confess faith in the risen crucified one had better start living out Charles Wesley's words, "Ours the cross, the grace, the skies," or admit we don't believe it, don't want any part of it.