As Paul says, it is pure foolishness to be a Christian if we don’t believe that Christ is resurrected from the dead. And yet I can so easily fall into behaving as though I don’t put any stock in that part of Jesus’ story. When I am ruled by my schedule, by my bank account, by what people might think of me, by my fear of loss, or by my distrust of my neighbors, I am not living out the central understanding of my faith.
Jesus tells us we do not belong to the world; we belong to him. And then he shows us what that means. He dies, and he is reborn. What happened to his pain, his lethal wounds, and all the trauma he went through? It is subsumed in a larger reality. We learn that we do not have to fear death, because Christ has conquered death, and he has done so for all time. We are truly immortal beings, wed in our very essence to the living God, who is love. And so it is only through loving – constantly, extravagantly, and unexpectedly – that we express our true natures.
This understanding did not come to Jesus’ followers all at once. He showed himself to them after his resurrection, and then, in the days following, he revealed to them those things they would not have understood except as witnesses to his triumph over death.
At Christ’s Ascension his disciples were forced to let go of him. Looking at the empty place where Jesus had once been, they came up against the inevitable next step: taking him into themselves. They came to realize that in the absence of the Messiah, it was up to them to embody him. This meant a radical change in consciousness that, over time, led to a completely different way of engaging life.
As we celebrate the Ascension, let’s take stock of how we are living. Are we embodying our Redeemer? In what ways are we living as the immortal creatures, sons and daughters of the living God, that we were created to be? And in what ways are we being foolish?