HED:Resurrection seen as central to daily life
By John Armistead
Was the resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth an event which actually took place? Or, was it a subjective experience on the part of grief-stricken followers of Jesus which they later objectified?
Several area ministers affirmed the traditional, literal interpretation of the event, and stressed that such an understanding (and only such an understanding) is essential if the resurrection is to impact people’s daily lives.
Death answers and life answers
“I believe in the literal resurrection of Jesus Christ and it is important and relevant to my life,” said the Rev. Steve Mosley, pastor of Mt. Zion Presbyterian Church in Falkner. “The task that we have to deal with as a Church is how we grow into and experience the resurrection. We have to learn how to make it part of our lives.”
Mosley points out that Christ is the life-giver and that death is the enemy of us all.
“We have to grow as a church in dealing with the life issues in the world, those who are poor and hungry and oppressed and living in war, as well as in dealing with Jonesboro, Ark., and Paducah, Ky., and Pearl, Miss., and the everyday routine of life itself as we try to live as an Easter people.”
The fact of the resurrection means Christians approach problems in in a different manner, particularly such problems as violence.
“I think the world answers problems of violence with more violence, but in dealing with the death-answers of the world, Christianity offers us life-answers. The resurrection of Jesus is the ultimate victory over death. You take that out and our hope becomes very shallow.”
The power that draws faith
“The resurrection is the core of our faith,” said the Rev. Don Bishop, pastor of Fulton United Methodist Church. “Otherwise, the life and teachings and particularly the death of Jesus would have gone into obscurity.”
Bishop stresses the effect the resurrection had on the early disciples.
“They had gone back to fishing, but the resurrection called them back to Jesus and to picking up the mission again. Nothing short of a real and convincing encounter with the living Christ would have persuaded them to come out from behind closed doors and stand before the authorities and make a commitment that would ultimately cost them their lives.”
He also sees evidence of the resurrection in the modern Church.
“The existence of the risen Christ in the world in various cultures is testimony to the reality that the one who died on Friday was alive on Sunday morning,” he said. “Without the risen presence of Christ, we deal with an idealism. With the risen Christ, we deal with an ultimate truth.”
Leaning into the future
For the Rev. Bryant Barnes, pastor of Tupelo’s Calvary Baptist Church, the resurrection cannot be considered in isolation from the crucifixion.
“We have to couple the atoning death with the resurrection,” he said. “The resurrection is meaningless apart from the death, and the death is meaningless apart from the Resurrection.”
The ultimate meaning of the resurrection is always future oriented.
“The resurrection gives us the hope that allows us to endure to the end and gives significance to our living day by day. The resurrection was necessary to demonstrate the continuity between the risen Christ and his earthly ministry. I think of (JŸrgen) Moltmann and the ‘theology of hope,’ and Fisher Humphreys, who says Christians live life as ‘leaning into the future.’ Apart from the resurrection we cannot lean into the future. There would only be hopelessness.”
Overcoming little deaths
The Rev. Joel Sweat, pastor of First Christian Church of Tupelo, also sees strength for daily living in the reality of the resurrection.
“The resurrection gives me a sense of hope even in the darkest of times in life,” he said. “It assures me that the sun is still shining, God is in control, and there is hope for my life and for others. Easter doesn’t do away with the tombs, but it provides an exit out of tombs.”
The Easter event is a statement about God’s love and power that offers believers strength in times of need.
“I see the resurrection as giving us assurance of God’s power over death, but I also see it as a present reality that gives me strength to overcome the little deaths which I face day by day. Whenever tragedy strikes, whenever I’m faced with those situations in life that don’t seem to make sense, the resurrection gives me an assurance that in even in those tragedies, God is still there. If he can overcome the tomb, surely he can conquer other things in life if I just rely on his strength and power.”