Resurrection


Philip’s Egg

Philip was born with Downs Syndrome. He was a pleasant child, happy it seemed, but increasingly aware of the difference between himself and other children. Philip went to Sunday School faithfully every week. He was in the third grade class with nine other eight-year olds.

You know eight-year olds. And Philip, with his differences, was not readily accepted. But his teacher was sensitive to Philip and he helped this group of eight-year olds to love each other as best they could, under the circumstances. They learned, they laughed, they played together. And they really cared about one another, even though eight-year olds don’t say they care about one another out loud.

But don’t forget. There was an exception to all this. Philip was not really a part of the group. Philip did not choose, nor did he want to be different. He just was. And that was the way things were.

His teacher had a marvellous idea for his class the Sunday after Easter. You know those things that pantyhose come in . . . the containers that look like great big eggs? The teacher collected ten of them. The children loved it when he brought them into the room and gave one to each child. It was a beautiful spring day, and the assignment was for each child to go outside, find the symbol for new life, put it into the egg, and bring it back to the classroom They would then open and share their new life symbols and surprises, one by one.

It was glorious. It was confusing. It was wild. They ran all around the church grounds, gathering their symbols, and returned to the classroom.

They put all the eggs on a table, and then the teacher began to open them. All the children gathered around the table. He opened one and there was a flower, and they ooh-ed and aah-ed. He opened another and there was a little butterfly. “Beautiful!” the girls all said, since it is hard for eight-year old boys to say ‘beautiful.’ He opened another and there was a rock. And as third-graders will, some laughed, and some said, “That’s crazy! How’s a rock supposed to be like new life?” But the smart little boy who’d put it in ther spoke up: “That’s mine. And I knew all of you would get flowers and buds and leaves and butterflies and stuff like that. So I got a rock because I wanted to be different. And for me, that’s new life.” They all laughed.

The teacher said something about the wisdom of eight-year olds and opened the next one. There was nothing inside. The children, as eight-year olds will, said, “That’s not fair. That’s stupid! Somebody didn’t do it right.”

Then the teacher felt a tug on his shirt, and he looked down. “It’s mine, Philip said. It’s mine.”

And the children said, “You don’t ever do things right, Philip. There’s nothing there!”

“I did so do it right!” Philip said. “I did do it right. The tomb is empty!”

There was silence, a very full silence. And for you people who don’t believe in miracles, I want to tell you that one happened that day. From that time on, it was different. Philip suddenly became a part of that group of eight-year old children. They took him in. He was set free from the tomb of his differentness.

Philip died last summer. His family had known since the time he was born that he wouldn’t live out a full life span. Many other things were wrong with his little body. And so, late last July, with an infection that most normal children could have quickly shrugged off, Philip died.

At his memorial service, nine eight-year old children marched up to the altar, not with flowers to cover over the stark reality of death . . . but nine eight-year olds, along with their Sunday School teacher, marched right up to that altar, and laid on it an empty egg . . . an empty, old, discarded pantyhose egg.

And the tomb is empty!

Source unknown.

Just Like the Butterfly

The bible holds out the great and glorious hope of a resurrection for us all. But what will the resurrected body be like. Theologian Harry Blamires offers the helpful illustration of the butterfly. As the caterpillar is to the butterfly, so our present body is to the resurrected body. There is continuity but there is also difference. Just as the caterpillar’s body is suited to the realm of the ground, and the butterfly’s to flight through the air, so our present bodies may be suited to this world of sin, but our resurrected bodies will be suited to the life of the Spirit, in a world that is eternal and without limit. And just as it would be difficult for even an intelligent caterpillar to imagine what life would be like as a butterfly, so we struggle to imagine the resurrection life.

Finally, it may be helpful to remember that when we think of the caterpillar we think of its life in terms of its becoming  a butterfly. We define its present existence by its future. So too, our present existence is defined by the future God has for us.

Source: based on Harry Balmires, “The Eternal Weight of Glory” Christianity Today, May 22, 1991

1984. A Future Without Hope?

George Orwell’s novel Nineteen Eighty Four was written in the aftermath of WW2, a time when Hitler had been defeated and the Soviet Union was on the rise. Orwell imagines what the world would be like under the control of authoritarian regimes. In this world “Big Brother” controls everything – where people live, what they do, where they work, what they say, even how they think. “thought crime”, to think thoughts that are against the ideology of the Party, is a heinous wrong.

The central character in Orwell’s book is a man named Winston. He works at the Ministry of Truth, rewriting history so that it fits with Big Brother’s view of the world. But he despises what he does and the regime that makes him do it. Winston begins rebelling against the “Big Brother”, small but deliberate acts of defiance. He finds an alcove in his house where the cameras of Big Brother cannot observe him, he begins an illicit affair with a woman named Julia, and in his own thoughts he questions the way the world is. As each small act of rebellion occurs the likelihood Winston will be caught increases.

the tension rises until the fateful moment when Winston’s resistance is exposed. He is sent to prison to be “rehabilitated”. This means breaking him emotionally and physically and then turning him once more into a party drone. His interrogator is a man named O’Brien. He wants to convince Winston that resistance is futile, that the arty will never be defeated, that the present will stretch unending into the future. At one point O’Brien chillingly says to Winston: “If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face – forever.”

“If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face – forever.” It’s a depressing image. The future no more than a repeat of the past.

To this the gospel screams a loud “NO!” . It declares that death, disease and distress will will not be the last word, that the risen Christ will return to restore the universe too goodness and justice. This is the Christian hope.