Sri Lanka & The Threat of Resurrection

Image result for sri lanka bombing

Relatives of a victim of a church bombing grieve outside a morgue in Colombo, Sri Lanka, Sunday, April 21, 2019.

written by Terrance Hawkins

If you’re like me, you woke up this Resurrection Sunday with a sense of excitement. Sometimes it’s hard to discern if this exhilaration is rooted in the central truth of resurrection or the peripheral nostalgia of “Easter Sunday” childhood memories. In any case, that “high” was quickly challenged by the news of terrorist bombings that killed hundreds of worshippers gathered in Sri Lanka. If I’m honest, I was tempted to quickly scroll past it in an effort to keep “my joy” in tact. Sometimes that is a necessary act of self-care but in this case I was convicted that a joy that needs to skip over the pain of the world is not a joy that comes from God. So, I was forced to deal with the tragic irony that violence & death reared its ugly head on a day that we celebrate the overcoming power of resurrection life!

The attack in Sri Lanka is a brutal reminder of the on-the-ground realities of this yet-to-be-healed world. We live in a world where both the horror of Good Friday & the glory of Resurrection Sunday live side-by-side. Or perhaps a better way of saying it is that resurrection cuts through the endless cycle of “Good Fridays” in our world, reframing our understanding & transforming our interaction with them.

Yes, we still lament.
Yes, we still agonize.
Yes, we still mourn.

But we do not lament, agonize, or mourn like those with no hope. We endure & even embrace the tearful nights of Good Friday for the joyous mornings of Resurrection Sunday set before us.

In Jesus we have seen & tasted the first fruit of resurrection. We have seen that sin, death, sickness, violence, injustice, hate, & lies will not have the last word. We have seen that Love never fails. We have seen that “truth crushed to earth will rise again”.

This sight has not come by the mere reading of words. This sight is the result of a power that is coursing through our veins. Resurrection life flows in & around us even as the death-dealing forces of evil swirl above & beneath us. The wounded, battered, & lynched “love warrior” who rose from the grave has in like manner risen within our bodies.

For this reason we echo the ancient psalmist who said,

“You will not fear the terror of night, nor the arrow that flies by day.”

For this reason we join the chorus of the civil rights movement that looked the deadly machinery of white supremacy in the face & sang,

“We are not afraid! We are not afraid today!”

Or as Martin King said the day before his “good friday”,

“I’d rather be dead than afraid.”

To live bound by fear is to live in direct contradiction to resurrection. To live under the grips of islamophobia, xenophobia, or any other fear of the “other” is to quench The Spirit that gives new life. A new life that can’t be taken out by the old order of things. A Life that says “you may kill members of God’s revolutionary family, but you can’t kill God’s revolution!”

The resurrection confirms the reality that Caesar—and all his historical manifestations—is NOT Lord. Christ IS!

The Herods, Pontious Pilates, Sanheidrens, & zealots of the world continue to conspire against the peaceable reign of Jesus but the reality of Resurrection calls us to pray with the early Church: “Look upon their threats and enable us to preach & embody your healing & liberating word with holy confidence.” (paraphrase of Acts 4:29-31)

For in the words of poet & theologian Julia Esquivel, “they have [unwittingly] threatened us with [the hope] of resurrection!”:

“What keeps us from sleeping
is that they have threatened us with Resurrection!
Because at each nightfall,
though exhausted from the endless inventory
of killings since 1954,
yet we continue to love life,
and do not accept their death!
They have threatened us with Resurrection
Because we have felt their inert bodies
And their souls penetrated ours
doubly fortified.
Because in this marathon of Hope,
there are always others to relieve us
in bearing the courage necessary
to arrive at the goal which lies beyond death.
They have threatened us with Resurrection
because they do not know life (poor things!).
That is the whirlwind which does not let us sleep,
the reason why asleep, we keep watch,
and awake, we dream…
Accompany us then on this vigil
and you will know what it is to dream!
You will then know how marvellous it is
to live threatened with Resurrection!
To dream awake,
to keep watch asleep
to live while dying
and to already know oneself Resurrected!”                                                                   (excerpt from They Have Threatened Us With Resurrection by Julia Esquivel)

Image result for oldest painting of jesus

Oldest known painting of Jesus

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