Awaiting resurrection

Looking toward Easter, Bishop David Bard says evil causes us to yearn for a new world where hunger is a memory and war is ancient history…

“Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here but has risen” (Luke 24:5b, NRSVue).

Among the bands whose music I enjoy is the group Drive-By Truckers. The group released an album just before the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic entitled The Unraveling, whose final song is “Awaiting Resurrection.”

The song begins with these lines: “Is there an evil in this world? / Yes, there’s an evil in this world.” The song moves forward with a rather haunting melody as the lyrics contemplate the challenges of our time: “There’s an evil in this world / I’ve seen it in the news / of babies dead in schools / or scattered in the pews.” The vocalist sings about the elusiveness of hearing an inner voice that may lead us forward, “seeking some salvation.” It is a hard song, yet it also speaks of “the beauty this life can keep injecting” and “awaiting resurrection.”

The world in which we live is filled with beauty and brutality, tenderness and terror, kindness and cruelty. Is there evil in the world? Yes. Too many violent deaths. Too much hunger. Too many addicted. Too much divisiveness. War in Ukraine is entering its third year. War in Israel and Palestine rages on. We yearn for the balance to weigh toward beauty and against brutality, to weigh toward tenderness and away from terror, to weigh toward kindness and away from cruelty. Truth be told, we yearn for a new world where hunger is a memory and war is ancient history. We yearn for a world where “steadfast love and faithfulness will meet; justice and peace will kiss each other” (Psalm 85:10).

As a brief aside, when I think about what is happening in Israel and Palestine and the war being waged in Gaza, steps need to be taken now in the direction of justice and peace. There has been too much death and destruction. One can be a vigorous supporter of Israel’s right to exist in peace and a strong critic of how it is waging this war. We require an immediate cease-fire paired with an immediate release of all hostages. Humanitarian aid needs to flow freely into Gaza. Negotiations toward a peaceful coexistence of Israel and Palestine need to commence immediately. I yearn for peace in the Holy Land and think these are the immediate steps toward such peace.

Awaiting resurrection. Yearning for a newer world. I think of lines from a Seamus Heaney poem about “the longed-for tidal wave” of justice rising up and making “hope and history rhyme.” In that poem, Heaney encourages: “So hope for a great sea-change / On the far side of revenge.” I think of Augustine’s Confessions, where, addressing God, Augustine writes: “You have made us for yourself, and our heart is restless until it rests in you.” I think of lines from Paul Tillich’s Systematic Theology: “Sanctification is not possible without a continuous transcendence of oneself in the direction of the ultimate — in other words, without participation in the holy.” Longing. Yearning. Awaiting resurrection.

At the end of this month, we will celebrate Easter, the most significant day in the Christian year. Easter, the promise of Jesus’ resurrection, is the promise of new life, deeper connection with God, new possibility, and a newer world. Is there evil in the world? Yes, there’s evil in the world, but as biblical scholar and theologian Walter Wink writes in Engaging the Powers: “But if a mere Galilean artisan has withstood the entire Domination System and has prevailed, then the power of the Powers is not, after all, ultimate. There is another power at work in the universe that, like water, cuts stone. It is the power of sacrificial love: active nonviolence.” Death is swallowed up in victory.

We still live in a world of cruelty and kindness, brutality and beauty, terror and tenderness, and in that way, we still await resurrection. Yet because of the resurrection of Jesus, we know which way the scales will be balanced finally. We await resurrection, not in dim and faint hope, but with an assurance that resurrection has already happened and will happen again. We live as people of hope working for the rhyming of hope and history, for a time when justice and peace will kiss, for a place where steadfast love and faithfulness meet. We give ourselves to God in Jesus Christ, trusting for resurrection in our lives, forgiveness, and newness of life. We live resurrection.

This Easter, may the hope and joy of the resurrection fill your heart and soul. May you carry resurrection into your lives and as you go into the world. May you share the joy and good news of resurrection with others.

I leave you with these lines from a poem by Maya Angelou:

Leaving behind nights of terror and fear
I rise
Into a daybreak that’s wondrously clear
I rise

Bishop's Blog