Last revised: March 27, 2013
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RCL: Isa. 65:17-25 or Acts 10:34-43; 1 Cor 15:19-26; Luke 24:1-12
RoCa: Acts 10:34, 37-43; Col 3:1-4 or 1 Cor 5:6-8; John 20:1-9

Isaiah 65:17-25

Reflections and Questions

1.In 2010 our parish was preparing for a summer trip to Guatemala, and the sermon was titled "Daring to Hope."

Acts 10:34-43


1. James Alison, The Joy of Being Wrong, p. 218; Raising Abel, p. 128; these are brief mentions making a similar point. A lengthier treatment of the passage can be found at Raising Abel, pp. 100-105.

2. James Alison, On Being Liked, the Introduction makes ample use of this passage, pages vii-xi; and then again on pages 101-102.

1 Cor 15:19-26


1. James Alison, Raising Abel; a reference to vs. 28 on p.191. (Frankly, I'm not sure why this lection stops short of its climax with "so that God may be all in all.") This sort of interpenetration of God's loving desire with all Creation in Jesus Christ might be related to all the imagery in the NT of the marriage feast -- which is the imagery with which Alison climaxes his discussion of eschatology.

2. Alison's works, in general, all proceeding from the resurrection, illustrate the theme of not only this text but this joyous day. I share with you excerpts from one of his key chapters, chapter 4 of The Joy of Being Wrong, entitled "The Resurrection and Original Sin." The first section of this chapter (and first excerpt) is the title section of the book, "The Joy of Being Wrong." The second section (and excerpt) is "The Johannine Witness," one of Alison's brilliant explications of John 9. (Another rendering of his John 9 interpretation appears in an essay in the 1997 volume of Contagion, which will also be part of his forthcoming book Faith Beyond Resentment.)

3. Another key moment in The Joy of Being Wrong, centered on the resurrection, are the second and third sections of chapter three, entitled "The Resurrection" and "The Intelligence of the Victim."

4. Robert Hamerton-Kelly, sermon from April 11, 2004 (Woodside Village Church), and sermon from April 8, 2007 (Society of St. John at St. Mark's Chapel, Palo Alto), and sermon from April 4, 2010 (Society of St. John at St. Mark's Chapel, Palo Alto).

Reflections and Questions

1. Alison's "intelligence of the victim" at Easter is an important theme on so many fronts. One for me lately has been the idea of the survival of the victim's perspective as the key to the history of religions, and to history in general. In the ancient religions, the victim's perspective didn't have much chance to survive since they were typically killed. Music during the rituals grew as a way to drown out the voice of the victim, even in the brief moments before be silenced by the knife. Jesus' resurrection breaks into that world as the permanent survival of the victim's voice -- and it's one of forgiveness, not vengeance! What's more, the Risen Jesus appeared in the context of a Jewish religion whose 'voice' in Holy Scripture had been shaped for centuries by the perspective of the victim, of being every empire's foot-mat. Through the Resurrection, the creation of the Christian faith has at its very heart this permanent survival of the victim's perspective.

2. This, in turn, has great import for inter-faith dialogue. Can an understanding of religion shaped by mimetic theory help us to find common ground in such dialogue around the perspective of the victim? In what ways has Native American religion, for example, been shaped to represent the perspective of the victim by the centuries of being oppressed by Christians who have lapsed into the perspective of the persecutors? For more on resurrection, the "intelligence of the victim," and inter-faith dailogue, see Part IV.5 of "My Core Convictions."

Luke 24:1-12


1. Gil Bailie, "The Gospel of Luke" audio series, tape 12 (notes, hopefully, coming in the future).

2. Raymund Schwager, Jesus in the Drama of Salvation; in Schwager's wonderful laying out of the Jesus drama, the Resurrection is the Fourth Act: "Resurrection of the Son as the Judgement of the Heavenly Father," pp. 119-141. The entire portion is worth the reading, including an excellent section on the election of Israel. I share with you what I see as the key portion from a Girardian perspective, pp. 130-137.

3. Andrew Marr, Abbot of St. Gregory's Abbey (Three Rivers, MI) is a long-time reader and writer on Mimetic Theory and in his blog, "Imaginary Visions of True Peace," made these reflections on the day in 2013, "A Risen Life Full of Forgiveness and Love."

4. N.T. Wright, The Resurrection of the Son of God, pp. 647-661 on Luke 24. More generally, in the essay "My Core Convictions" I summarize the importance of this book, under the doctrine of heaven, as follows:

3.4 Heaven. N. T. Wright had originally planned to end Vol. 2, his work on the historical Jesus, with a chapter on the Resurrection. But he found popular Christian piety about heaven to be so off the mark that he ended up writing an entire 800-page volume on it, The Resurrection of the Son of God. His main point in this book is that the popular Christian thinking about heaven is more from Plato than it is from Jesus and our Jewish heritage. Most Christians think in terms of heaven as a separate place where one goes after death, accompanied by a hope along the lines of, 'This earthly life is but a desert dreary, heaven is my home.' The grave problem with this thinking is that a first-century Jew, namely, Jesus and all the apostles, would never have a hope in terms of devaluing the Creation. Their faith in God is faith in the Creator who lovingly created the heavens and the earth. Such a God would not scrap the earth in favor of a heaven as a holding tank for migrated souls (Plato's hope). The Jewish/Christian hope is for resurrection of the body and the fulfillment of Creation. Popular Christian thinking prays that souls go to heaven when the body dies. The Lord's Prayer prays that, "Thy Kingdom come, they will be done, on earth as in heaven." In other words, it prays that heaven comes to us on earth, not that we go to heaven. Heaven is the unseen dimension of Creation where God's will resides. We pray for God's will, for heaven, to merge with earth and bring it to fulfillment. Devaluing the earth in favor of a heavenly home gives us an excuse to treat it sacrificially, that is, as another victim of our sacred violence.
5. N.T. Wright, Luke for Everyone, pp. 288-291, Twelve Months of Sundays, pp. 54-55. The key insight concerns why to the other apostles the women's story seems an idle tale. It's more than just the idea of resurrection itself, since resurrection was a popular belief for Jews in the first century. Yes, there is the aspect of women's views being devalued in a patriarchal society. But Wright suggests another intriguing reason: the Jewish hope for the resurrection isn't on a person-by-person basis. It was for a general resurrection of all the just on the last day. Resurrection of one person before the end-time doesn't make sense in the context of their beliefs. He comments:
The women rushing around in the early morning, Peter scratching his head staring at empty grave-clothes, might well be puzzled: this was not part of the plan. They had thought Jesusí language about his own dying, and rising again, to be a dark metaphor, indicating perhaps a great struggle against paganism or Israelís current leaders, followed by a great victory. They had not reckoned with it being literal, or with the battle being waged against the last enemy, death itself. They were going to have to get used to living in a present which was shot through with Godís future, a world in which the continuing disjointedness of creation was to be seen as out of date, waiting to be brought into line with the future which had already begun to happen.
Questions and Reflections

1. Christians have come to worship not on the traditional Sabbath, the day of rest, but on the first day of the week. We are Easter people who celebrate God's renewal of Creation, the dawning of which is on Easter morning. What does it mean to begin a New Creation? And for us to participate in it? These questions are explored from the perspective of mimetic theory in a sermon, "A Sonrise Story."

John 20:1-9

As an option for the Gospel in all three years of the lectionary, I have put together a separate page for John 20:1-18.

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Link to another Resource for Preaching from the Perspective of Mimetic Theory:

Link to "The Text This Week" -- the Most Comprehensive Lectionary Site on the Internet