Easter Day

Acts 10:34-43; Psalm 118:1-2,14-24; Colossians 3:1-4;  John 20:1-18

Rev. Dr. Tim Connor

“Seven Stanzas at Easter” (John Updike)

Make no mistake: if he rose at all
It was as His body;
If the cell’s dissolution did not reverse, the molecule reknit,
The amino acids rekindle,
The Church will fall.

It was not as the flowers,
Each soft spring recurrent;
It was not as His Spirit in the mouths and fuddled eyes of the
Eleven apostles;
It was as His flesh; ours.

The same hinged thumbs and toes
The same valved heart
That—pierced—died, withered, paused, and then regathered
Out of enduring Might
New strength to enclose.

Let us not mock God with metaphor,
Analogy, sidestepping, transcendence,
Making of the event a parable, a sign painted in the faded
Credulity of earlier ages:
Let us walk through the door.

The stone is rolled back, not papier-mache,
Not a stone in a story,
But the vast rock of materiality that in the slow grinding of
Time will eclipse for each of us
The wide light of day.

And if we have an angel at the tomb,
Make it a real angel,
Weighty with Max Planck’s quanta, vivid with hair, opaque in
The dawn light, robed in real linen
Spun on a definite loom.

Let us not seek to make it less monstrous,
For our own convenience, our own sense of beauty,
Lest, awakened in one unthinkable hour, we are embarrassed
By the miracle,
And crushed by remonstrance.

Updike’s poem stands in sharp contrast to the current fashion of translating the resurrection into allegory about new life in spring or about the  great principles of peace, justice and joy, which Christians share with others. Rather than rush to explanation and theory, the poet encourages is to stay and reflect on the event and believe in a great miracle. We see a community shattered by grief brought together in their witness to a message that is at the heart of our faith. If Jesus is raised from the dead then there is a power in creation that is greater than death itself. No power, not death, despair, pain or suffering is greater than the power of God.