Sunday 16th April – Communion Service led by Revd. David Aplin

This week will see at least three birthdays. Joan Gooding celebrating 95 years, Margaret Barton 92, and Frank Palmer who was hoping to sneak his 83 years past us without our noticing. He wears those years well – as do both of our ladies theirs!

A week after Easter the focus was on spreading the Good News. David scene set for us: the disciples in disarray – not only had Jesus gone, but his whole message had gone too! David doubted that the disciples would have been familiar with the many prophesies which seem to gather in frequency and intensity as the Old Testament draws to a close. So resurrection would not have been in the minds of the disciples (though it was on those of the Pharisees who had Pilate put a guard on the tomb). We partook in the Bible reading of the news spreading around the different disciples that he’d been resurrected and Jesus Christ the Messiah had risen!

Jesus was buried in the garden tomb, with a large stone rolled across the tomb entrance by Joseph of Arimathea and guarded by soldiers sent by Pilate.

(And then things get a bit confused, with Mary and the soldiers seeing the stone rolled back by an angel according to Matthew, Mary arriving to find the stone rolled back and the tomb empty and the soldiers gone in the other Gospels, with angels and others giving messages about Jesus’ resurrection).

John has Jesus appearing to Mary, who doesn’t recognise him, mistaking him for a gardener until he speaks, “Mary”.

Jesus says to her “Don’t touch me for I have not returned to the Father yet”. The Gospels have other equally puzzling stories. Luke recounts the experience of the two disciples on the road to Emmaus. Although they have been with Jesus for some years, they don’t recognise him (or his voice) for over an hour after he joins them on their journey, realisation dawning only when he breaks the bread and gives thanks. And then we have Jesus entering a locked room to talk to his disciples, though by this time his body is firm enough for them to touch him.

The simple story is of Jesus dying and being resurrected, his body filled with life again. This doesn’t seem to fit the recorded facts. David tells us to stop being rational and hidebound and rely on faith. The body Mary and the disciples saw was not the body from the tomb. The body from the tomb could not have done the many things recorded in the Gospels. The spiritual body of the Resurrection could – and did!

When we die, we discard our bodies (not us, but what people see of us) but not our spirit, our soul. It is our soul that goes on and rises again. The Easter story is about the soul of Jesus who came to earth as a man (not as a man/God) with all the weaknesses and susceptibilities of being a man. He died and discarded that body. The fact that the new body appeared with the wounds was necessary because he had a message to give out so that people would recognise him. He spoke to people so that they would recognise him through his voice.

Jesus’ soul was resurrected as Jesus Christ our God in a new body, and we are told that he went before, and that we, through faith in him, will be resurrected to follow. We won’t be resurrected with the bodies we currently have (did we really think or want that?).

David believes that the only possible conclusion we can draw from the Bible accounts is that if we truly believe, we’ll be resurrected in new bodies just as Jesus was. Nothing less fits the facts. And nothing less supports the experience of many Christians of the spiritual world as it is revealed to them.

We should suspend our disbelief and accept the reality of the Resurrection, not only of our Lord but of ourselves.

(Although resurrection is at the core of Christian belief, there are so many questions for which the only answer seems to be “We’ll find out when we get there”. David’s interpretation – his belief – also raises questions. Not least how we will recognise our loved ones in their new bodies. No matter. What is important is that we hold firmly to the belief that God cares so much for us that he took on human form because he wanted us to join him in heaven.)

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