Monday, April 20, 2009

"Ain't no Grave Gonna Hold My Body Down"

I asked a small child if Jesus' body is in the grave. She responded, "Yes. He died on the cross, but He lives in heaven now." A small child, of course. Perhaps a slip, a momentary confusion. Let's hope so.

But I wonder. This is how so many think of our death: bodies left behind to turn to dust, but the self, the awareness, the Real Me in heaven with Jesus forever. Our funeral liturgy is full of references to the resurrection. The prayers at the committal are for God to bless the body until the resurrection. But I do not think people hear those prayers anymore. We are gnostic, the body a shell, the material things temporary, the spirit world is our home.

That is not Christianity, not if you leave it at that. Not if this is the goal and hope for our future and eternity. It's gnosticism. Maybe even Islam, if you said "Paradise" instead of heaven.

I heard what the child said and I was afraid. I was afraid that after so long--generations? centuries? of going-to-heaven-to-be-with-Jesus talk, of leaving my body behind, of "that's not her anymore. That body is a shell" talk--that such heresy has passed from us to Christ. That when people here, "On the third day He rose from the dead and ascended into heaven," we think of Spirit-Jesus in heaven with Jesus, His body left behind, unnecessary any longer. Lord have mercy!

Now if Christ is proclaimed as raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain.(1 Cor. 15:12-14)
No. I am a stranger here on earth, but I await a new heaven and a new earth. I long to be with Jesus, but I also await the resurrection of the dead. My goal is not to be in heaven. My goal is to live, to rest in the grave and then rise, to be in Christ and with Christ.


  1. orrologion said...


    I have always found interesting the 'no relics' argument for Mary's resurrection and bodily translation very interesting. In brief, the fact that there are no physical, personal relics of the Theotokos is a buttress for the tradition that she was bodily reseurrected and translated into heaven following her Dormition.

    Given Luther's quip regarding the relics of the true cross and the forests of Bavaria, it is interesting to note also that there are no physical, personal relics of our Lord, either. If people were willing to manufacture relics on demand for centuries and centuries, why did no one ever create relics of Christ - not even his old fingernail clippings or drops of blood scraped off the rocks of Golgotha?

    The Church has always believed He was resurrected physically, that there was no body to get relics from. It was assumed - pardon the pun - that the resurrection was a physical reality.

    The person is the body - and the soul, the spirit, the hypostasis.

    Very different from today, as you note.

  2. Christopher D. Hall said...

    Christ is risen!

    Thanks for your comment, Christopher. Frankly, I'm surprised that it hasn't garnered any other comments.

  3. orrologion said...

    Personally, I find it best to ignore the Orthodox.