Monday, April 16, 2012

Following Jesus After Easter

I am still haunted by a long conversation I had with a man who was a member of one of my early congregations. He told me that one evening, returning from a night of poker with pals, he had a stunning vision of the presence of the risen Christ. Christ appeared to him undeniably, vividly.

Yet though this event shook him and stirred him deeply, in ten years he had never told anyone about it before he told me, his pastor. I pressed him on his silence. Was he embarrassed? Was he fearful that others would mock him or fail to believe that this had happened to him?

“No,” he explained, “the reason why I told no one was I was too afraid that it was true. And if it’s true that Jesus was really real, that he had come personally to me, what then? I’d have to change my whole life. I’d have to become some kind of radical or something. And I love my wife and family and was scared I’d have to change, to be somebody else, and destroy my family, if the vision was real.”

That conversation reminded me that there are all sorts of reasons for disbelieving the resurrection of crucified Jesus, reasons that have nothing to do with our being modern, scientific, critical people.

Theologian Jurgen Moltmann says that a major reason for disbelieving in the truth of the resurrection is that, if the resurrection is true, then we cannot live as we previously have lived.  We must change or be out of step with the way the world really is.  If the world is not in the grip of death and death-dealers, how then shall we live?

William H. Willimon
-  from The Best of Will Willimon, (Abingdon Press, 2012)

1 comment:

foxofbama said...

Bishop: I have seen an interview and a blog announcing your book on your time in Alabama, The Bishop.
I was gonna leave a farewell comment on your blog and I still may do that framing it in a comment of the Great Presbyterian minister from South Carolina Frank Harrington.
But the Ft. Payne Times-Journal has a story up today of children from Crossville, Alabama meeting Gov Bentley in Montgomery last week.
And I wanted to share here at your blog the comment I left online at the Times Journal as follows:

This morning the first story on NPR at the crack of dawn was about Mitt Romney and Kris Kobach the Hispanic vote come the fall.
Kobach is profiled in Self deportation article in Mother Jones magazine that I brought to the attention of Senator Shelby in a town hall in Centre about a month ago.
And Bishop Willimon if the previews of his new book on his stay in Alabama is any indication of how he would unpack this photo would find this fascinating.
Still the children look happy, and the Governor seems at peace with himself.
As John Lewis said when I saw him in Selma first Sunday in March: " We all live in the Same house, and it's God's House."
May God have mercy on these children from Crossville, and the Governor too. And me and you as well.
In 97 or so I was in MOntgomery and Will Campbell was there on stage with 8th graders from Collinsville. At least one can hope the influential folks at FUMC Ft Payne and FBC, and the sons of the pastor of Collinsville Baptist will look at this photo through the eyes of Will Campbell and Bishop Willimon; as my friend Sam Hodges says, For the Love of Alabama