A recent reflection from “Give Us This Day”, a monthly guide to the daily mass readings, is from the scripture scholar Walter Brueggemann: “The Easter question for us is not whether you can get your mind around the resurrection, because you cannot. Rather, the question is whether you can permit in your horizon new healing power, new surging possibility, new gestures to the lame and the weak, new ways of power in an armed, fearful world.”
I like Brueggemann’s words because they capture the sense in our culture that we need evidence, proof, for the stories in the bible. Don’t try to figure it out, he seems to be saying. Don’t get stuck hanging around the tomb looking for the evidence. Instead, ask yourself what are the “tombs” in your own life, or in our world, and what are the ways that God’s “new ways of power in an armed, fearful world” might take root?
Just over a week ago, a little more than a hundred miles to the north of here at Appomattox, Virginia, large crowds gathered to commemorate the surrender of Confederate troops to the Union army. The surrender happened on April 9, 1865, one hundred and fifty years ago. When I visited there a few years ago, I was taken by the story of the Union general Joshua Chamberlain, who, as the Southern troops approached to surrender, ordered his own troops to “carry arms” as a sign of respect and honor toward the surrendering army.
The Confederate general John Gordon was caught by surprise by Chamberlain’s gesture, and later spoke of Chamberlain’s graciousness. At the end of a long, brutal war, Chamberlain’s noble gesture was remembered as a small sign toward reconciliation between the states, and example of Easter’s “new ways of power in an armed, fearful world.”
It’s a nice ride up there on a spring or a fall day, through the winding back roads of North Carolina and Virginia. Worth the trip! Blessings on your week!