Tuesday, April 18, 2006


Another excellent Easter Sermon from Rowan Williams - an affirmation of the radical character of the Gospel and a re-situating of the often fatuous debates about gnostic texts and fanciful religious novels.

[T]he New Testament was written by people who were still trying to find a language that would catch up with a reality bigger than they had expected. The stories of the resurrection especially have all the characteristics of stories told by people who are struggling to find the right words for an unfamiliar experience – like the paradoxes and strained language of some of the mystics. The disciples really meet Jesus, as he always was, flesh and blood – yet at first they don’t recognise him, and he’s something more than just flesh and blood. At the moment of recognition, when bread is broken, when the wounds of crucifixion are displayed, he withdraws again, leaving us floundering for words. He gives authority and power to the disciples to proclaim his victory and to forgive sins in his name, yet he tells Peter that his future is one in which he will be trussed up and imprisoned and hustled away to death.

So the New Testament is not a collection of books with a single tight agenda that works on behalf of a powerful elite; it is the product of a community of people living at great risk and doing so because they sense themselves compelled by a mystery and presence that is completely authoritative for them – the presence of Jesus. They have been convinced that being in the company of Jesus is the way to become fully and effectively human. They are discovering how to live together without greed, fear and suspicion because of his company. They believe that they’ve been given the gift of showing the world what justice and mutual service and gratitude might look like in a world that is a very dangerous place because of our incapacity for these things. They take the risks because they believe they have been entrusted with a promise.

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