Faces on Faith: Reasons, raisins and resurrection
Pastor Matt Fitzgerald once wrote about the year his daughter was in kindergarten. She and all her classmates in Sunday School were given plastic Easter eggs. Inside each egg, the teacher had placed a little slip of paper with the basic Easter message.
At the time Fitzgerald’s daughter was just learning to read – and so she struggled a bit with the sentence on the paper. “He,” she paused. “He is … ” But then she got stuck. She tried to figure it out. Finally, she proudly announced, “He is raisins!”
Fitzgerald writes: “‘He is raisins’ is illogical. ‘He is risen!’ is merely incomprehensible.” Some things make no sense – they are illogical. Others we just can’t understand – they are incomprehensible. As Fitzgerald writes, “(O)n Easter God has done the incomprehensible.” (“Thunderous Yes,” The Christian Century, 4-2-14, 10)
For many of us, that is extremely frustrating. We want to make sense out of everything – especially something as important as life after death. We want the columns to add up. We want to be able to explain it all in words and numbers that we can understand. We want to be able to poke it and probe it and discover what makes it work.
Don’t get me wrong. Exploring the hows and wherefores of eternal life, examining the inner workings of resurrection is a perfectly acceptable activity. I mean, I’ve taught courses that do just that. But ultimately the resurrection of Jesus, the central event of Easter and of my faith, is incomprehensible – especially when examined with the tools of reason. And in the end, the story pushes me to belief. Not belief in the sense of intellectual assent. But rather belief in the sense of trust. The Easter story invites me and others to trust that God does love us. The resurrection of Jesus invites me and other Christians to trust that God will take care of all people not only in the here and now, but in the great beyond as well. Whatever that means – whatever it looks like!
The Rev. Dr. John H. Danner is the senior pastor at Sanibel Congregational United Church of Christ.