Christians all over the world will celebrate the great festival of our year—the week of Passion and the Resurrection of Jesus. People who are not connected to a church often scoff at the idea of resurrection. After all, we are a scientific people. And can you name anybody else you’ve ever known that was resurrected?
Even the biblical record isn’t all that helpful. There is no account of anyone having actually witnessed the resurrection, itself. What we have are the stories of those who encountered the risen Christ. For some—maybe for many—such stories just aren’t compelling enough.
Across the ages, people have looked to the theologians and ministers to provide answers to such questions. A lot of folks come to church on Easter Sunday hoping someone like me will finally solve the riddle and prove to them that resurrection happened.
I have bad news on that front—there is no proof and there isn’t likely going to be any proof. And besides, it is a mistake to imagine that we ministers—or any Christian for that matter—are in the “question answering business.” Being a follower isn’t about proving something. Being a follower is about emotion, not science.
Faith is much more like a romance. There is a mystery as to what draws us to one person or another. God has romanced creation from the beginning. Faith is about believing something before you see it. Not long ago the scientific community was all a twitter over the discovery of the so-called “Higgs Boson” as the result of an experiment inside the CERN supercollider. Without boring you to tears about what that discovery was about, the amazing thing was that Robert Higgs predicted this particle discovery decades ago. He was mocked for that theory at the time. But Higgs believed before he saw.
Faith is much the same. One of our popular sayings is “Seeing is believing.” We in the church are the ones who profess “Believing is seeing.”
This week, we will worship on Thursday night with a commemoration of the Last Supper—a service traditionally known as Maundy Thursday, named for the Latin word “mandatum” or mandate. Jesus instituted this feast and we Christians have held it as the centerpiece of Christian worship ever since. And on Friday we will have a Tenebrae Service commemorating the crucifixion. This is a service of light and shadow in which Jesus’ last words are recalled and candles are extinguished throughout the service until we end in darkness—and death.
I hope you can attend these services (both at 7:00 p.m.). The fullness of your Easter celebration depends on encountering the darkness of the Passion.
And next Sunday, we will more fully understand why we can shout “hallelujah.” Here’s my suggestion for this Sunday: don’t come looking for proof—come to feel the arms of God around you. Come believing that God so loves the world that He gave His only son . . .
Kristin Clark-Banks is the pastor of Forest Hills UMC.