Pause for Thought April 2018

Are you/is he DEAD OR ALIVE?

You may have heard the news item about a Georgian man who went to work in Turkey and didn’t communicate with his family back home. Eventually his wife had him officially registered as dead. The man, Constantin Reliu, returned from Turkey in January this year after being away for more than 20 years. He has had a legal nightmare as he has tried to be officially declared alive again. Officials in the northern city of Vaslui said he had filed his request to overturn the death certificate too late. The 63 year old now says, “I am a living ghost….I am officially dead though I am alive”.

This put me in mind of Easter, with the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ (remember him from Christmas?) On Easter Sunday those of us who are Christians will celebrate the resurrection of Jesus from the dead, starting early in the morning on Hills and Holes at sunrise, and later in church services. We don’t make such a fuss over Jesus’ miracles or his great teaching. The great creeds of the Christian Church over the past 2000 years move from his birth (“Born of the Virgin Mary”) straight to his death and resurrection (“suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, dead….”) with no mention of his teaching etc.

Without the resurrection of Jesus from the dead, the Christian faith is empty, our hope is in vain. St Paul makes much of this at the end of his first letter to the Corinthians in the New Testament of our Bibles. In Chapter 15 he writes, “For I handed on to you as of first importance what I in turn had received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the scriptures, and that he was buried, and that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the scriptures, 5 and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. 6 Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers and sisters[c] at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have died.”

And again, “If Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile.”

So in order for this to be Gospel, i.e. Good News, rather than fake news, Jesus must be alive.

Interestingly, a sceptic and sometime journalist and novelist set out to disprove the resurrection of Jesus many years ago. In compiling his notes, he came to the conclusion that Jesus did rise from the dead. The book he published to set out his reasoning has been very influential over the years. The writer was Albert Henry Ross who wrote under the pseudonym Frank Morison, and the book is “Who Moved The Stone?”.

Perhaps our Georgian friend, Constantin Reliu, should read the book for clues as to how he can show that he too is alive…. Or maybe you could look up that book and consider the resurrection claims. It is after all what many of us are celebrating on April Fools Day this year. Whose fool are you?

Happy Easter, Rev Dave Maylor.