It's near the end of the month, and the chore of a parish magazine article comes round again. Little time for the blog, so here's my Easter article, for what it's worth.
You can never go home again. Or as Heraclitus put it, you cannot step into the same river twice, for new waters are always flowing over you. Whether it's pre-Socratic or pop philosophy, it's a truism. There's no going back. We change, the world around us changes, and try or wish as we might, we cannot recapture the past. More importantly, we cannot undo our actions. Whatever we do, or experience, we have to live with the consequences.
Depending on what our experiences and actions are, that fact may be either comforting or depressing. I'm sure that for nearly everyone it's a mixture of both. There are many things we are happy to live with, and many which we could desperately wish undone.
Whichever it is, we must move forward.
As we move towards Easter, it may seem that the very inability to undo what has been done gives the lie to the centre of the Christian message. If Jesus rose from the dead, was God not undoing what had been done? And if he did, in that one special case, what relevance has it for us for whom the river continues to flow?
But of course, the resurrection is not about Jesus coming back to life. The Bible does contain a few stories of people returning from death; Lazarus and the widow of Nain's son for instance. Even these, though, are not truly an undoing of what has happened, any more than resuscitations which take place in operating theatres and accident and emergency rooms. And we hold up none of these as the answer to death itself; they are merely postponements of the inevitable.
Easter is different. It is God's statement that as the river of time flows on, the consequences even of disaster and death may work out in triumph and life. Jesus' resurrection is not a revival, but a transformation. It is the unfolding of the chrysalis within which is discovered the answer to apparent defeat and destruction. Jesus is transformed, and becomes the first to experience the new life of eternity, a life based on this one, but expanded and fulfilled beyond our wildest dreams.
It brings hope even in the face of death, and it brings hope into our ever-changing lives. We cannot go back, but with God we can discover a future which builds on our present experience and action, and transforms it. If we cannot undo what we have done, or revisit what has been visited upon us, we can allow God to take us further into his future, and find there the new beginnings which foreshadow the final resurrection.