23 March 2008

“He is not here…”

What you thought you came for
Is only a shell, a husk of meaning.
[T.S. Eliot, Little Gidding] …

Easter occurs … when we find in Jesus not a dead friend but a living stranger. … Some writers have—carelessly?—spoken of Jesus being raised ‘as’ the believing community, or alleged that the risen-ness of Jesus consists essentially in the persistence of Jesus’ own faith and trust in God within the Church. Yet this sidesteps the whole issue of the strangeness of the risen Jesus. … We have already noted that Jesus as risen is a Jesus who cannot be contained in the limits of a past human life; the corollary of this is that Jesus as risen legitimating and supporting memory of a community. The church is not ‘founded’ by Jesus of Nazareth as an institution to preserve the recollection of his deeds and words; it is the community of those who meet him as risen and the place where all the world may meet him as risen.

Human beings long to be assured that they are innocent. … The gospel will not ever tell us that we are innocent, but it will tell us that we are loved; and in asking us to receive and consent to that love, it asks us to identify with, and make our own, love’s comprehensive vision of all we are and have been. That is the transformation of desire as it affects our attitude to our own selves—to accept what we have been, so that all of it can be transformed. It is a more authentic desire because more comprehensive, turning away from the illusory attraction of an innocence that cannot be recovered unless the world is unmade. Grace will remake but not undo. There is all the difference in the world between Christ uncrucified and Christ risen…

Archbishop Rowan Williams, Resurrection

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