Sunday, April 15, 2007

Living with imperfection – for now

In these post-Easter days, some notes to consider about our all-too human condition. From Luke 24:1-12:

On the first day of the week, very early in the morning, the women took the spices they had prepared and went to the tomb. They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. While they were wondering about this, suddenly two men in clothes that gleamed like lightning stood beside them. In their fright the women bowed down with their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, "Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here; he has risen! Remember how he told you, while he was still with you in Galilee: 'The Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, be crucified and on the third day be raised again.' " Then they remembered his words.

When they came back from the tomb, they told all these things to the Eleven and to all the others. It was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the thers with them who told this to the apostles. But they did not believe the women, because their words seemed to them like nonsense. Peter, however, got up and ran to the tomb. Bending over, he saw the strips of linen lying by themselves, and he went away, wondering to himself what had happened.

Perfection required?

Thank God – and I mean God – the answer is no.

Consider some of the witnesses of the first Resurrection Day, the greatest day in human history, the day Christ rose from the grave, and the day he redeemed us all: Mary Magdalene and Joanna were among those described as afflicted with evil spirits and disease (Luke 8:1-2). Peter denied Christ to witnesses before the Crucifixion (Luke 22:60).

They were imperfect,flawed sinners. As are we all. What did these sinners do? Mary and Joanna, and others, delivered the news. Peter ran to the tomb. In Acts, he becomes the Rock of a faith that we follow to this day. The other followers finally came to understand Jesus' words in Galilee: "the Son of Man must be handed over to sinners, and be crucified, and on the third day rise again." (Luke 24:7)

Like Jesus came to the cross in the face of death, those early followers came to faith in the face of their own imperfection. Consider that day, that Resurrection Day. It began as a day of bitterness and misery for a small band of people who might have been quickly forgotten. The day turned bright indeed, though, for the women who visited the empty tomb, for Peter, and, thank God, for all of us who celebrate that day.

A stroke can be a physical sign of imperfection. For the moment. In his own time, God prepares perfection for us. That is our hope and strength.