Sunday, November 27, 2011

Signs of glory…

The resurrection of Jesus is the basis of our faith in the resurrection of our bodies.  Often we hear the suggestion that our bodies are the prisons of our souls and that the spiritual life is the way out of these prisons.  But by our faith in the resurrection of the body we proclaim that the spiritual life and the life in the body cannot be separated.  Our bodies, as Paul says, are temples of the Holy Spirit (see 1 Corinthians 6:19) and, therefore, sacred.  The resurrection of the body means that what we have lived in the body will not go to waste but will be lifted in our eternal life with God.  As Christ bears the marks of his suffering in his risen body, our bodies in the resurrection will bear the marks of our suffering.  Our wounds will become signs of glory in the resurrection…

In so many ways we use and abuse our bodies.  Jesus’ coming to us in the body and his being lifted with his body in the glory of God call us to treat our bodies and the bodies of others with great reverence and respect.

God, through Jesus, has made our bodies sacred places where God has chosen to dwell.  Our faith in the resurrection of the body, therefore, calls us to care for our own and one another's bodies with love.  When we bind one another’s wounds and work for the healing of one another’s bodies, we witness to the sacredness of the human body, a body destined for eternal life.

Henri Nouwen

Perhaps it’s odd to be speaking of Easter at the opening of Advent; and yet our hope, the hope of judgement, the hope of justice, the hope of healing, is only found in the Cross. Without the Cross, Advent and Christmas are a children’s tale, a pool of light and warmth against the utter cold and appalling distances of deep space.

Advent is a double waiting. We wait for news from the angel; for the appearance of a bright star. And yet all that happened long ago, in Nazareth, in Bethlehem of Judea. We wait for another coming, for other news.

This time, it will be very different. “Come, thou long expected Jesus,” we sing. He will come.

This time, there will be no star in the East, no Annunciation. “For as the lightning flashes and lights up the sky from one side to the other, so will the Son of Man be in his day.” (Luke 17.24) Yet in this judgement, nothing is wasted. All that we have suffered will be transformed, renewed; and so will all that all creation has suffered.

Jesus cries out, “Behold! I make all things new!” And, in the light of his wounds, it will be accomplished.

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