What a glorious morning, a glorious time to celebrate resurrection, a glorious time to acknowledge that through Christ’s resurrection each and every one of us has been resurrected, made new, lifted up, healed.
Alleluia, Christ is risen!
One time I was at the grocery store about to buy some potatoe chips. Next to me was a woman who lifted up a bag and replaced it and said, “No one will buy this bag, it’s full of broken chips.” And indeed it was. I too passed it over in favor or one with nice big whole unbroken chips. But that got me thinking about what kind of chips Jesus would choose. What do you think?
The Christian church is often described as a resurrection community. What does it mean to be a resurrection community? What do we mean by resurrection? To resurrect means to bring to life again that which has been dead, to lift up again that which has fallen. It means the transformation of that which is broken into that which is truly whole. It is taking something that is broken, dead, destroyed and lifting it up to a state that is even better than what it was before it was broken.
In order for there to be resurrection, there must be a death of some kind. There is no Easter without Good Friday. Before he could be resurrected Jesus had to be broken. We are reminded of this each time we celebrate the Eucharist, the Lord’s Supper. The bread does not become for us Christ’s body until it has been broken. Through the breaking of the bread it is transformed. In the same way Jesus had to be broken in body, mind, and spirit – he had to die to who he was – he had to lose his identity as the Galilean Rabbi named Jesus – he had to disappoint his followers who each had some idea to who he ought to be – he had to resist all the demands, inner and outer, for him to be anything other than who he truly was – he had to die to it all in order to be resurrected as the Christ.
We are a resurrection community, because we are a community of people who have been broken. We come to Christ, we look to the resurrection, not because we are already perfect, not because our lives are always wonderful, not because we feel full and complete, but because we are broken, each in our own way. We know that we are not perfect, that we are often in physical, emotional, or spiritual pain. We know that sometimes we feel lost, abandoned, empty, and afraid. We come because somehow we know, as Peter said, “I truly understand that God shows no partiality.”
We are like the community that surrounded Jesus – a group of men and women who each had their own stories of brokenness. There were prostitutes and tax collectors, passionate fishermen whose uncontrolled anger had won them the nickname “sons of thunder” and an insecure teacher who came to see Jesus at night. There were those who were greedy, and those who were afraid. There were slaves and army generals. There were those who had been diagnosed as crazy, possessed by demons, and those who had been blind beggars. There were menopausal women and epileptics. Each one had a story of brokenness. It is for this reason that I am convinced that Jesus would have chosen the bag with the broken chips. He always seemed less interested in those who were whole and sure of themselves and more interested in those who knew themselves as broken.
And with Jesus’ death this motley group became even more broken. They dispersed, they denied their relationship with him and they hid in an upper room. Their expectations about Jesus and his movement had been broken – shattered – by the cross. Even the women who came to the grave responded not initially with joy, but with fear to the knowledge of the resurrection. What was to become of this community of broken people?
To me, the most amazing thing about the resurrection stories is not that some of his followers claim to have seen him alive, but the dramatic transformation that took place in these broken followers. Those who were hiding and afraid became fearless speakers, telling the good news of Christ. Peter who once denied he knew him found the courage and the voice to speak eloquently of his love. The women who were afraid to tell anyone eventually did and went on to share the gospel as far as Rome. This band of broken people became a force that changed the world. These frightened people risked their lives, and often lost them, in speaking out for what they believed. This community of broken people was resurrected into a powerful force. Who says you can’t use the broken chips?
Like Jesus’ followers we are a community of people who have been broken, but we are not just a broken community, we are a resurrection community. That means that our brokenness leads to resurrection. Our brokenness leads to rising again to something that is even better than before we were broken. Just as a doctor will tell you that if you break a bone, after the bone has healed that point is stronger than the rest of the bone. Through healing it becomes stronger than it was before the break.
Through the healing of our brokenness we become more than we were before we were broken. Through the healing of our wounds, we become resurrection people. We have died to who we thought we were, died to our self-identity as victims, or abusers, users or sinner, haters or lovers, insecure or self-absorbed. As resurrection people we live into our wholeness. We are ready to die to that which is broken in us, to let ourselves be healed, to let ourselves know ourselves as resurrected people.
We come to Christ as broken people, asking to be resurrected into something more, something greater. Yet, you wouldn’t know that looking around. For some reason, especially on Easter, we feel a need to present ourselves in the best possible light when we come to church. We put on our best clothes, fix our hair, shave or put on makeup. We want to look our best. And we bring our families and tell our children to behave and our spouses to make a good impression. We hide our brokenness from each other as if we believed that we are the only ones with a story of pain and suffering, of doubt and fear, of abandonment and loneliness. We feel embarrassed should we shed a tear.
We forget, that this resurrection community is not about proving we are already well, but seeking out healing, it is not about already being perfect, but about being forgiven, it is not about being fearless, but learning to transform the fear, the doubt, the pain. It is about the process of resurrection.
We come together as a community to remember and celebrate Christ’s resurrection – through which we are assured that there is more, much more, unimaginably more, to life and death than we had ever dreamed. We celebrate that through his resurrection we have the potential to be resurrected, to be lifted up, and to become more. We are reassured that who we really are is so much more than the broken, struggling human being we think we are. That who we really are is a loved, resurrected, child of God, who is full of grace and joy and peace.
All we have to do to know that is to die – to die to who we think we are, to die to our pretensions of wholeness and admit our brokenness, to die to our fears and doubts, to die to the illusion that we can do it on our own, to die into the loving arms of Christ who will resurrect us from out current state into a superior state – who will lift us up – who will show us what it means to truly live.