Simon’s Says ~ from Alan

Over the years, I’ve been interested in the ways the rest of the world countenances the Church’s holy days when they roll around.  You’ve probably noticed it yourself - at Christmastime, mainstream magazines will publish articles about Jesus’ birth, or perhaps what the world looked like around the time he was born; likewise with Easter and the idea of the resurrection (and very often, this year included, the intersection of Easter and Passover).  One of the more unusual takes came from The National Enquirer a number of years ago which described the role of extraterrestrial aliens in the discovery of the empty tomb.  (Oh, the sermon I got out of that one!)

Some of you may have read Nicholas Kristof’s op-ed piece in the New York Times last Sunday, an interview with Union Theological Seminary President Serene Jones about, among other things, the bodily resurrection of Jesus (how did he know our United Church’s Easter sermon topic?  You can read the interview here:  https://www.nytimes.com/2019/04/20/opinion/sunday/christian-easter-serene-jones.html).

Serene Jones is one of us; a UCC pastor, a prolific writer, and currently a seminary president.  And, predictably, her conversation with Kristof set off some alarms in certain segments of the church, particularly with regard to the place of the miraculous - not just he resurrection, but the conversation also veered into Christmas territory and the virgin birth - Serene was reluctant to give it a central place in the Easter story.  Another UCC writer, Matt Fitzgerald, who writes regularly for the Advent and Lent devotional we use, took issue with Serene’s comments, and since he had her as a seminary professor a number of years ago, he thought he knew what to expect of her.  (Matt’s article in The Christian Century:  https://www.christiancentury.org/blog-post/guest-post/same-old-debate-about-easter-story-and-whether-or-not-believe-it?fbclid=IwAR2xB6_6gmNNV1pLP3UA7MeVM8c-EAsyz5TRYbkf085Hm6wl2BAwV90i7FA)

I’m not going to dive into the debate, except to say that we have already covered much of the same territory from our United Church pulpit, so this congregation knows the salient points.  And besides, we don’t try to tell others what to think; we’d rather provide the important information so that folks can form their own opinions.  So let me just say that the part of me that resonates most with Serene’s comments come toward the conclusion of Kristof’s interview; she says, “Something was struggling to be born that first Easter.  It burst forth in ways that changed the world forever.  Today I feel that spiritual ground around us shaking again...  What will emerge?  That is for our children and our children’s children to envision and build.”

Take a look at both articles, and tell me what you think.

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