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Those Three Words: He Is Risen!

Our cornerstone proclamation takes only three words … He Is Risen! Without that, the whole church enterprise dries up and blows away.

For something that critical, we might welcome a second opinion, perhaps a voice from the “other side” with a little more information. As it is, the voices we get can only offer commentary, the finely honed arguments of the theologian, say.

First, though, we might turn to the poetic mysticism of Teilhard de Chardin. In the Divine Milieu, he offers this observation:

In itself, death is an incurable weakness of corporeal beings. It is the sum and type of all the forces that diminish us, and against which we must fight without being able to hope for a personal, direct, and immediate victory.

We do fight it, of course, which is part of what gives us our nobility, that we do not go gently into that unknown night.

He continues:

Now the great victory of the Creator and Redeemer in the Christian vision is to have transformed what is in itself a universal power of diminishment and extinction into an essentially life-giving factor.

He goes on to talk about how death is the vehicle by which we come at last to have communion with God, what he calls a “fullness and unity in God.”

We cannot, and would not, say that death is nothing, but in that it does not, in the Christian vision, get the last word, death is certainly diminished. “Death, be not proud,” wrote poet John Donne. Why? Because in the Christian vision, “thou shalt die.”

In a way, for God to be God, God cannot lose what God has created. Similarly, for God to be God, God cannot forget those whom God loves. Indeed, if God is love, then in the Christian vision, everything finds communion with God at last, for God forgets nothing, loses no one.

Not exactly a visit from the “other side,” but clearly a good reason for a people—a  resurrection people—to rejoice!

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