Saturday, March 19, 2011

resurrection for Japan, and for Libya?

Good morning God
The United Nations passed resolution 1973 yesterday calling for a ‘no-fly zone’ in Libya. Meanwhile a nuclear catastrophe is threatened for Japan following the earthquake and Tsunami just one week earlier.
These events are a painful reminder of how, if it is to mean anything at all, the Easter story of death and resurrection of must speak powerfully and truthfully, not just to the comfortable and contented, but to the distraught and distracted of this world.
Help me then God,
What would resurrection mean for the people of Japan? It certainly has to be more than a rebuilding of the thousands upon thousands of homes that were torn apart or washed away by the sea. Pristine new homes, all spic and span, are no substitute for the parents and children who were lost. A renewed economy similarly cannot make up for the countless workers that died. Resurrection is not renewal or rebuilding – it is something so much more. It is the inclusion of the old into the new. Christ still bore his scars after his resurrection.  Resurrection is the transformation of pain and suffering, of death and destruction into God’s gift of hope and life. It does not dismiss wounds but incorporates them into the new fabric of life.
For the people of Japan, resurrection means that the death and destruction they have so painfully witnessed, is not the end. There is hope. What will emerge from this will not be the same, no – but it will not be empty of what has gone before either. 
I am told God that you work in mysterious ways, your wonders to perform.

But what then of the people of Libya and the UN resolution? More challenging this for we need to ask what sort of resurrection is it that we hope for in Libya, that we are sending people to die for in Libya?
Is it a resurrection of Western imperialism or European colonialism, or an  imposition of a Western style of government and its secular value system, or do we actually want a resurrection of the common humanity and unity of the Libyan people?  Such a resurrection would certainly need to bear the scars of its past both cautiously, and consciously.

As part of the Easter story – it is important to ask at what point did the cry go up -  ‘Crucify’  - and what coin helped to pay for it?  Such a question causes us to reflect on what it is that motivates us to fear, murder and hatred.

Christ’s betrayal on Good Friday is a painful reminder us of how fickle humanity it – how one moment it is more than happy to ‘eat drink and be merry’ and the next, it bays for blood.  This we have witnessed in all the events leading up to the UN resolution being passed, from Tunisia and Cairo through to the Bahrain and Libya: both in the actions of some of the protesters and in the obscene reactions of some of the so-called leaders.

The resurrection of Christ however, turns the world upside down precisely because it is not just a story. We can draw all the similarities and analogies we like, but in the end, the resurrection is all that we have to hope in. It alone promises that no amount of bloodshed or fear will keep the hunger for life in all its fullness at bay. It is a demonstration in history that no amount of protest or power politics can stop God’s plans for all of the created order – including humans. Even death itself will not stop the truth of human destiny. The simple fact is that the knowledge of what it means to be alive, to be a Child of God, will not stay buried. No matter how ‘mighty’ a people think they are, no matter how ‘right’ they believe themselves to be – YOUR will, WILL be done on earth, as it is in heaven.

The Commandments are clear and unequivocal. They are more binding than any United Nations resolution: They tell us we must:
love the Lord your God, with all your heart, with all your mind, with all your soul and with all your strength – and you shall love your neighbour – whoever he or she is – as you love yourself.
The resurrection gives hope because it reminds us that we are not commanded to hate, but to love, we are not asked to fear but to embrace. It is your claim that  violence never wins – love, only love can win through in the end.

This Lent as we walk the path to Jerusalem with Christ, we can take heart from knowing it is no ‘fairy story’. There is real power in the promise of new life which it contains and phenomenal  grace in the mercy that it shows to us. We might not yet have learned how not to crucify everything we are afraid of, we certainly haven’t learned yet how to stop trying to play God with the peoples of this earth, yet – even so - you do not seek our death. Instead, you offer us new life in Christ.

It’s easy to dismiss the resurrection as a myth, or a story or a scientific impossibility. It’s harder to live the sort of life where Christ’s resurrection is a daily reality. Yet when we do, neither earthquakes nor tsunami’s can shake us from God’s grasp. And our violence – no matter how convincingly justified or legalized – is transformed, dissipated by the knowledge that:

Christ has died
Christ is risen
Christ will come again.


1 comment:

  1. Angela, I really appreciate your comments about Libya even though I don't think you and I are yet of a mind on the issues. What has surprised me has been the absence of Church and Christian interest. There have been obvious problems in Libya for nearly two months, military intervention has clearly been on the cards for several weeks and yet there seemed so little discussion - not even a request for prayer.

    You ask what sort of "resurrection" we want for Libya. I have put some ideas forward on two posts on my blog. I won't repeat them here but I believe we could see some really remarkable developments in future years focused on the Mediterranean Basin.

    At present the sea acts as a boundary between north and south, sometimes as divisive as the iron curtain was between east and west. This needn't be the case for infinity. A prosperous north Africa will offer new opportunities and the possibility of new security.