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Real Resurrection

Greetings All,
Since holy week began yesterday and brings us to the observance of two of the most important and foundational events our faith -- Jesus death the cross and His bodily resurrection -- I thought I would simply share my all-time favorite Easter poem (again)!

It was written by the well-known (and Pennsylvania born -- Reading, PA) author, John Updike, who passed away two years ago at the age of 76. He wrote it in 1960 for a Religious Arts Festival at the Clifton Lutheran Church in Marblehead, Massachusetts, the church he attended shortly after graduating from Harvard University, "because it nurtured the roots of faith he had grown up with in Pennsylvania."

The poem is entitled: "The Seven Stanzas of Easter" and stresses the fact that Christ's resurrection was real and bodily, and not just a figment of the disciples' imagination, or a mere symbol of things coming back to life in the Spring. It rightly won the $100 prize. Enjoy.

The Seven Stanzas of Easter

Make no mistake:

if He rose at all it was as His body;

if the cells' dissolution did not reverse,

the molecules 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-mâché,

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 will have an angel at the tomb,

make it a real angel,

weighty... and 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 is right. If Jesus did not rise from the dead bodily, there is no Gospel to preach and no salvation to proclaim (I Corinthians 15:13-19).

Yet we can thank God He did rise form the dead. "Not as His Spirit in the mouths and fuddled eyes of the eleven apostles," but in "His flesh: ours." For as the Apostle Paul tells us, "He [Jesus] was delivered over to death for our sins, and was raised from the dead for our justification" (Romans 4:25). And again, "If you confess with your mouth, "Jesus is Lord," and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you shall be saved" (Romans 10:9). If you have not done so, I pray that you would.

I know its only Monday, and we still have to pass through Good Friday, but I want to wish you blessings on your Easter, Paasfeest, Pascua, Ostern, Pasqua, Uskrs, Paskalya celebration!

Jesus was born, Jesus suffered, Jesus died, Jesus rose again. That is our faith, for without it we have nothing to proclaim. "He is risen! He is risen indeed! Hallelujah!"

Looking in faith to Him, Pastor Jeff