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ESV: Book of Common Prayer Daily Office Lectionary

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Jathan

Hey, Monk-in-Training,

I read your post again and realized that I didn't quite tie all those thoughts back into what you were saying, as I was originally planning to.

The empty tomb is really only empty without faith, without God's Spirit in us. But through faith, we can see what you suggested...God's presence dwelling there, a message. Perhaps, though, the emptiness (the fogginess, the uncertainty) of that event that started all this is a space to be filled by the Spirit too. Perhaps the uncertainty is intended, so that the gospel lives by Spirit and faith, not by sight. For faith has to do with what is unseen.

Perhaps God let the beginning of the gospel remain fuzzy, so that we can respond to it in the same way that those who were personally confronted by Jesus had to respond to him...for many certainly had a hard time believing, even WITH all the miracles. Perhaps it would be even harder for me to believe he was the Christ if I actually met him!

But God has not given me that privilege, so what I have is some evidence brought forth by some scholars, and then the story itself, in the gospels, with the monumental character of Christ. Truth is, I think Christ is more real than history, than any of us, even if he wasn't flesh and blood on earth. For he makes me real. He makes me come alive.

And if he didn't ever exist as a physical man on earth (against the amazing evidence FOR this), I don't think I would stop believing that God really IS Jesus, if that makes any sense. I think I'd still believe that one day there will be a resurrection of the dead, unto an imperishable life, and that God will meet us as Christ, as a man, as a person, as one who suffered, as a Son of God and Son of Man. Perhaps this is crazy, but then again, faith does often seem mad.

Jathan

Interesting thoughts you have. I appreciate your input, Monk-in-Training. This latest post stirs ideas in my mind...

I was sitting at the side of a creek yesterday, pondering the riddle of Christ and history. At one point, I picked up a twig and broke little pieces off, bit by bit, flinging those pieces into the water. I watched the growing circular ripples that I left with fascination (I like the sight of moving water).

Then an idea popped into my head. Something happened 2,000 years ago. Whatever it was, it was massive, and it produced this incredible collection of writings that we call the New Testament. It has left a monumental ripple running through time, spreading outward into new lives and new places. What I see most clearly, as you seemed to mention, is this ripple right now. I see it in my heart and many others who have turned to Christ for hope. I see the love that blooms from it.

Now I know this ripple had a source, and that it's moving ever farther away from its beginning (temporally), but when I look backward to see what exactly made the ripple, I don't see anything, just the surface of the water. Whatever made it happen is hidden from me now, and no amount of evidence will ever tell me exactly what was there.

It is left to my heart to decide whether something plopped into history from the fingers of God. Or perhaps he dipped his finger into history. It is left to faith to decide whether God himself made a stirring, made this ripple.

And the ripple continues in me if I do indeed believe that he had his hand in this. So where is Christ in this analogy? Well, he'd be the ripple. Or if you like, the Spirit of Christ is the ripple, and it moves onward into the future. It is alive and well today, and I cannot deny that. How this Spirit first arose in the world, we will never know with any scientific certainty, but we believe the ripple began in a man named Jesus, and that this man, this beginning, came from God, sent by God, placed by God, representing God, beginning a glorious work of God. And then from Christ, the Spirit of God spread outward into the world.

But getting to your theme of emptiness, the past is closed to me, it seems. It is empty. The best I can find is evidence that some man was extraordinary. I cannot prove that he was from God, for how does one prove God's work to be God's? (I'm borrowing from Kierkegaard here.) It is simply believed. And where does belief come from? That seems to be a mystery to me, but it certainly has to do with my personal history...more my personal history than the world's history.

So the past is empty. The best I can do is look back on it, and in my heart affirm that God indeed began a good work there, and he will be faithful to complete it, in me and in generations to come, until the end of this age. The past comes alive when it is taken into the present, in my heart, for the Spirit is here, now. The Spirit pours meaning back into history, but its main purposes are forward, creating new wonders and bringing new hope.

Without the Spirit now, my heart would be as empty as that tomb is supposed to be. And I cannot deny the Spirit of the present, the God of the present, the God that I presently pray to, for I do not pray to the God of the dead, but to the God of the living. In the emptiness of my soul, he found me, and I know not how it all happened. I just know that the man of the gospels, Jesus Christ, fills this leaky soul. He is the present Christ that sustains me and keeps me going, not a fact of history.

If the Good News is a story about something that happened 2,000 years ago, then it has long since become a point of historical debate, not news. News is always current, recent. The Good News always needs to be New.

Well, that sums up what's been on my mind the last 24 hours.

Peace to you! I hope that this conversation can continue!

your brother,
Jathan

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