Sunday, April 04, 2010

Happy Easter

I am preaching this morning, my second Easter sermon in so many years. I don't understand why a rabbi would be asked to address a church community on Easter, unless the hope is that s/he would at long last realize that the empty tomb means Jesus is Lord.

A couple of days ago during one of my university classes a guest speaker suggested that the simplest explanation as to why the tomb in which Jesus was buried on Good Friday was empty on Easter Sunday is that God had raised him from the dead. This struck me as odd. Wouldn't a simpler answer be that Jesus' body was removed by his friends, or by his enemies, or that he had faked his death on the cross and, once alone in the tomb raced out, married Mary Magdalene, moved to France, and started a family line that culminates in Dan Brown? Why make supernatural intervention your default position? And what is it like to live in a world where supernatural intervention is considered the simplest explanation of life’s mysteries?

To find out I decided to spend the next day with this hypothesis in mind.

As usual I could not find my car keys that morning, and, rather than blame my wife, my dog, or myself I assumed demons snatched them. When I did find the keys hidden beneath a magazine, I assumed that demons put the magazine on the keys and that God directed me to the move the magazine and discover the keys. I also assumed that demons made me subscribe to the magazine so they could use it to torture me at some future date. God, I assumed, preferred that I save trees and subscribe to the e-version of the magazine which is why He inspired Steve Jobs to invent the iPad, which the Lord wants me to buy despite the demons conspiring to keep me from affording one.

By the end of the day I was totally paranoid. Everything that happened to me was a conspiracy of God and demons. Chance and coincidence were banished, and everything was the result of a cosmic battle. This was not comforting, but I did get a sense that such thinking was a lot simpler than having to deal with the possibility of serendipity and randomness.

Will I share this insight with my listeners this morning as we proclaim the miracle of the empty tomb? It wouldn’t be polite or politic to do so, so perhaps I won’t. But who am I kidding? Of course I’m going to share it! That’s what they get inviting a rabbi to speak on Easter Sunday.


dtedac said...

Rabbi Rami,
Actually I think the default position is the one that Mary Magdalene and Peter and John had: they saw the empty tomb and did not know where Jesus was. It was later that we are told that Jesus appeared to the disciples. So, if you want to use a scriptural default position, it would be, someone must have taken him and we don't know where he is.


J.F. said...

I don't understand. How could one POSSIBLY fake a death by crucifixion? What about being crucified could you walk away from, considering how bad your feet would hurt, with the huge nails that they were impaled with and all. Even if someone were to take you off the cross before you died, and carried you off since walking wouldn't be an option, I am thinking shock and infection might do ya in. I know you were being glib, but that joke just didn't sit to well with me.
There are tons of references in the bible of Jesus's physical 'visits' after His death, check out the doubting Thomas one. I am curious as to how you came to the conclusion that He wasn't taken bodily to heaven, since the bible goes to great lengths to tell us that He was, considering that part of Christianity is pretty important.
In the old testament, Elijah was taken bodily, so was Enoch, many would say that Elijah being taken up to God in his corporal form foreshadowed the bodily resurrection of Jesus.

Maggid said...

How did your talk go?
What DID you focus on?
Your new-ish maggid was also speaking . . . it went okay - Now I'm happy to know you were presenting, too . . (not that I'm nearly as clever - it just makes me happy to know i was "in concert" with you - at different venues.)

Smiling in your direction,