Bald Eagles as a sign of Resurrection, by Tom Harries
By 1963, the pesticide DDT together with some shooting, had driven the total population of Bald Eagles in the lower 48 states down to about 400 breeding pairs. In the whole state of Minnesota, the mid 70’s, there were fewer than 100 pairs.
When I was a child, there was always a pair of eagles nesting somewhere north of our lake cabin, in northwestern Wisconsin. We loved to watch the young ones learning to fish. One time we saw one dive to the water. But instead of flying away, it stayed down. Laboriously it’s paddled toward the shore with its wings. We were really worried about it. Finally it reached the shore…and dragged a huge fish up on the beach.
But then one year we didn’t see any young. And for several years we didn’t see any eagles at all on our lake.
Then one year, I was out sailing. The Clouds lit from the bottom as the sun set, and an occasional puff of white topped the waves. I had no business at all being out by myself, with the boat balanced high on it’s edge.
Feeling very alive, I looked up just in time to see a bald eagle fold it’s wings, plunge to the water, and fly away with fish.
They were back! Today there are more than 6000 breeding pairs in the lower 48 states.
Earth Bound: Easter
One of a seasonal collection of Reflections by the Rev Roger W. Weaver
The ice was groaning with dull bass “ka-thunks,” and the sun was warming the porch suggesting all kinds of Spring feelings. At the Ely Eucharist several people announced the arrival of Spring; I was somewhat skeptical fearing that high hopes can quickly be deflated with rain, sleet and wet, blowing snow.
The landscape was particularly dull. Brown dominated. There were brown grasses, brown bushes, brown dirt and roadsides, and brown leaves blown around brown ground from leafless brown tree branches. This was tamarack time. What could be more austere than the solitary tamarack standing in the grown muskeg with its needleless and twiggy skeletal branches shifting in the March winds?
“Son of man, can these bones live?” Only the spruce, cedar and pine broke through with hints of green, and even they could only hint because the dry brown had encroached into their evergreen fiber.
“Can these bones live?” “You know Lord.” This is gestation time! The burden of Spring weighs heavily while waiting for just the right time. The buds are full and beginning to soften. The pussy willows showing white are portents of the green to come. Suddenly in the blink of an eye, in the flash of blinding energy, in a time that we usually see only by hindsight, the landscape will have changed, and the rush of life will be full speed ahead.
But now I wait, kicking my way through dried up leaves and building brush piles for a Winter fire. I do have Easter in mind, but Easter in this country is like the white of the pussy willows; it shows long before Spring. Our claims of “He is risen” will be part of the chorus of groaning ice and brown branches shifting in the winds, as we continue to wait in full expectation for the dead to be raised again.
The Temple is relocated in the meal and the garden, by Dennis Ormseth
If the meal necessarily embeds the movable feast in the socio-economic and ecological life of the communities in which Jesus’ followers find themselves, then neither location nor dwelling are irrelevant to the post-resurrection narrative of the Christian community. Besides the mountain on which Jesus died and was raised, there are the other locales in which the story of Jesus plays out: the home of the leper, the attic room, an open field, a courtroom and a courtyard, each of which offers its special kinds of membership for our consideration upon the rereading of the Gospel in the light of the resurrection. And of course one must not neglect the garden: the story that seemed to end in the garden where there was a new tomb begins anew, the alternative gospel reading from John 20 informs us, also in a garden, something to which the author seems to want to call our attention with his story of Mary mistaking Jesus as the gardener. Was Jesus not the gardener of the new Eden of creation, as later Christian legend would have it? Was there not something appropriate to the suggestion by a Jewish rabbi that it was “the gardener, looking out for his cabbages that morning of the first day of the new creation? (See Raymond E. Brown, The Gospel According to John XIII-XXI, p. 990, for the source of these legends). If the garden is, since Eden, the place of betrayal, it is also the place of restoration; the place of death becomes the place of new life. Can we not hope that this can be said for every garden, if the God we meet in the meal is not only the Creator of all that is, but the One who in Jesus’ death and resurrection swallowed up Death?
Reflection on Resurrection and Easter
by John Gibbs. PhD
When I told my last remaining uncle that I had just returned from a Church conference on ecology, he reacted strongly to the effect that the Church had no business getting into ecology. His idea is that there is more than enough to do if the Church sticks to saving souls.
Holy Week and Easter are occasions for re-examining the heart of Christian faith. In this week cross and resurrection are conjoined in “the Christ event.” But what happened in that event? Our view of “what happened” in cross/resurrection influences the entire spectrum of our ethical decision-making, including environmental ethics. Here at Holy Week and Easter it becomes as clear as possible how far reaching are the effects of our theology, our Christology, and our hermeneutics.
If literalism is the only hermeneutic option, for instance, then one sees at the heart of Christian faith a freak event whereby dead corpuscles were resuscitated. Resurrection of the body means, for literalism, the return to life of flesh and bones that had died and had already begun to decay. Centuries ago John Donne, the great preacher-poet, laughed to scorn such a view by wondering out loud (in a sermon!) what a scramble it would be on the day of resurrection when all the bones that had been scattered about in wars would hastily be reassembling themselves into their former unitary bodies.
It is a strange worldview that on one hand insists on literal return to life of Jesus’ physically dead body, as if that material body were the basis of the Church’s faith, but on the other hand disdains “this world” of things and objects and physical bodies, for only “the things that are above” (Colossians 3:1-2) are to be “sought.” That line of thinking extols the Church invisible at the expense of the Church visible, honors the “spiritual” life at the expense of turning our physical “bodies” into “living sacrifices” (Romans 12:1), and does all this despite Paul’s term “body” referring to the entire human “self” (Oxford Annotated NRSV note on Romans 12:1). That line of thinking confines the Church to “saving souls” at the expense of the Church’s mission to all of human life: the institutional no less than the individual, the social no less than the personal, the global no less than the local, the ecological no less than the ecumenical.
The resurrection, as presented in earliest Christian literature remains a mystery. Its meaning is not contained by literalism. True enough, the risen Jesus eats fish, but then he also goes through a closed door with no difficulty. There were wounds, but Thomas’ faith did not depend on touching them, even though he was invited to do so (John 20:26-28).
Clearly no systematic treatment of Jesus’ resurrection occurs in the New Testament. Instead there are descriptions that, taken together, point to a mystery whose reality lies beyond the reach of language, even metaphorical language Earliest Christians described the body of the risen Jesus in order that there be no mistaking Jesus for “a ghost” (Luke 24:37) nor some pure spirit. His appearances (Matt. 28:1-10) were not hallucinations, but objective realities both “out there” and “for us” in time and space, so far as they were concerned.
Jesus’ resurrection does not catapult us out of this world into some remote spiritual realm. It catapults us instead directly into this world, for it is here within God’s creation that the power of the resurrection is at work not only among us but also throughout the whole creation (Romans 8:18-39). The One who died and was raised (Rom. 1:4) not only “intercedes for us” (Rom. 8:34), but also permeates the cosmos with “the love of God” (8:39) — so much so, that separation from God’s love has become impossible for all creatures in all time everywhere.
Christian environmental ethics is not a dispensable extracurricular activity for “saved” Christians. To the contrary, the manner in which we live among fellow creatures is fateful for them no less than for ourselves. How we live within the environment determines whether we are set upon a dead-end via dolorosa (road of tears, Romans 8:18a), or upon a pilgrimage through suffering, to be sure, but under resurrection power (Romans 1:4) toward “glory” (8:18, 30) that includes the creation (8:19-21).
Freedom from bondage to decay is not a private Christian possession, but a public process that is at work throughout the cosmos, including the Church: “…the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to decay and will obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God” (Romans 8:21). “What happened” at the crucifixion and at the first Easter was cosmic in scope. “The Christ event” binds us to the creation within which, and for which, it took place.
Acts 10:34-43: The Scriptures testify that Christ’s resurrection was a physical event, and his resurrection body was physical although changed (41).
Isaiah 25:6-9: Through Christ’s Resurrection God will fulfil all his promises. The entire time between the Resurrection and Judgment will see the outworking of the Good News, patchily and incompletely now, perfectly and totally then.
I Corinthians 15:1-11: The Scriptures testify that the physical resurrection of Christ is an integral part of the Good News.
John 20:1-18/Mark 16:1-8: The Resurrection of Jesus is God’s powerful affirmation of the physical world. It assures a future for matter, including the human body, and for all that God has created. It also indicates that our bodies and the whole creation are to undergo a transformation and be made perfect in Christ.
By making Mary of Magdala [and the other Mary and Salome?] the first witnesses to the resurrection, God established the importance of women in articulating and making known the message of the Risen Christ.
Shift – Creation Care, by Tim Hedberg
Could it be that Jesus’ resurrection not only brings hope to humanity, but also to and for creation itself?
On this Shift Sunday, this is what I want us to consider. Could it be . . . could it be possible . . . is God asking us to see through his words that Jesus’ resurrection is not solely for you and me but also for all of his creation?