April 9, 2007, Enterprise Dispatch
Pastor's Column

It’s not natural

Pastor Mike Nelson, North Crow River/Grace/Redeemer Lutheran Parish, Cokato

For centuries, Christians have associated Easter with the springtime. We have long related Easter eggs, spring flowers, butterflies, chicks, and bunnies with this Christian festival.

It was in the springtime that the first Easter happened, and both Easter and spring remind us of new life. So, when springs breaks forth and we feel the warm spring sun, hear the robins singing, smell the aroma of the first spring hyacinth flowers, and see the pussy willows budding, we cannot help connect these natural spring sensations with Easter.

But normal as these associations might seem, the interconnections can be a bit deceptive because there is nothing “natural” about the Resurrection.

Easter is not about the natural, normal scheme of things. When sin entered the world, the natural consequence was death. However, on Easter morning, when a group of women went to the tomb where they had seen Jesus’ lifeless body placed on Good Friday, they were shocked to find the stone rolled away and the body missing.

This troubled the women. But then, two men in dazzling clothes appeared to them and told them, “Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen.”

This was not the natural, expected outcome of their visit to this garden. Rather, they were the first witnesses to an event that has turned the entire world upside down.

The Resurrection was neither a revival of Jesus, nor was it a reincarnation. Jesus had been dead, but now he is alive.

Jesus is alive in the very same body that was killed. And if Jesus bodily rose from the dead, that means that today, he is still alive. He is loose and active in our world and has the power to free us and raise us up from whatever forces we may encounter that seek to draw life from us.

The 20th century theologian Karl Barth once said that the Easter gospel “is not a natural ‘therefore,’ but a miraculous ‘nevertheless.’”

The Resurrection was not a natural event. But I think it is also incorrect to describe it as a “supernatural” event. Perhaps a better term would be to call it an “extra-natural” event.

The Resurrection has gone beyond nature to give us what nature could not give us. Easter has happened in order to give each of us life . . . life in its fullest.

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