And transforming my Mother’s Day graveside visit.  Just a sample from my latest read, Surprised by Hope:

I hope that those who take seriously the argument of this present book will examine the current practice of the church, from its official liturgies to all the unofficial bits and pieces that surround them, and try to discover fresh ways of expressing, embodying, and teaching what the New Testament actually teaches [about death, resurrection, & heaven] rather than the mangled, half-understood, and vaguely held theories and opinions we are meeting [in our world].  Frankly, what we have at the moment isn’t, as the old liturgies used to say, “the sure and certain hope of the resurrection of the dead” but the vague and fuzzy optimism that somehow things may work out in the end … What we say about death and resurrection gives shape and color to everything else.  If we are not careful, we will offer merely a “hope” that is no longer a surprise, no longer able to transform lives and communities in the present, no longer generated by the resurrection of Jesus himself and looking forward to the promised new heavens and new earth …

Easter was when Hope in person surprised the whole world by coming forward from the future into the present.  The ultimate future hope remains a surprise, partly because we don’t know when it will arrive and partly because at present we have only images and metaphors for it, leaving us to guess that the reality will be far greater, and more surprising, still.  And the intermediate hope–the things that happen in the present time to implement Easter and anticipate the final day–are always surprising because, left to ourselves, we lapse into a kind of collusion with entropy, acquiescing in the general belief that things may be getting worse but there’s nothing much we can do about them.  And we are wrong.  Our task in the present … is to live as resurrection people in between Easter and the final day, with our Christian life, corporate and individual, in both worship and mission, as a sign of the first and a foretaste of the second. 

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