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Weekly worship: Sunday 15 April

Third Sunday of Easter: A physical event

Fish in Nombo, Mali

A physical event

Acts 3:12-19, John 3:1-7, Luke 24:36b-48

Here, we'll reflect on:

  • The dualism of the soul and the body
  • The physical act of the Resurrection
  • Looking after our physical world – God's creation

'We believe in life before death' remains one of Christian Aid's long-loved slogans.

As we continue to celebrate the Resurrection of our Lord in this season after Easter, it's easy to focus all our thoughts on the life to come:

“For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.”

The dualism of the soul and the body

As Christianity spread throughout and beyond the Roman Empire, it found itself in dialogue with the Greco-Roman world view.

It's from this Hellenic world that Christianity inherited its understanding of an everlasting soul, separated from the perishable body. This dualism has infused Christianity since its earliest days.

At its extreme, we'll hear that Christians should do all they can to bring an end to this sinful realm, so that the Kingdom of God might be ushered in!

It's not uncommon to hear the belief that this physical world of sin is, in some way, less important than the eternal realm.

 

The Resurrection was a physical act

Acts 3 has been used to justify appalling acts of anti-Semitism. This is a wilful misuse of the Scriptures, but we must acknowledge the legacy of the past. Peter’s comments link Jesus, and his death, with the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

It is the God of our ancestors whose son suffered a physical death on the Cross. And it is faith in that same God which has brought physical healing.

In Luke 24, we're shown, in no uncertain terms, that Christ’s resurrection is about the physical realm. Luke does not describe Jesus as ‘appearing’ among them. Rather, Luke tells us that Jesus came and ‘stood’ among them. A physical act.

The disciples were terrified and thought they were seeing a non-physical apparition, a ghost.

“Look at my hands and my feet; see that it is I myself.” Jesus said. “Touch me and see; for a ghost does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have.”

The resurrection, in Luke’s account, is the resurrection of the body. A physical event.

Luke goes on to reinforce this by describing how Jesus eats a piece of fish. His telling of the story makes it clear that the physical realm is not divorced from the spiritual; the body matters.

 

The future of the physical world is in our hands

As the Commonwealth heads of government gather in London this week, it is tempting to dismiss the Commonwealth as, at best, a talking shop with little real influence.

But as Christian Aid seek to focus their - and our - minds on climate change, we're reminded that the body and soul are inextricably entwined.

We are stewards of God's creation, which is the physical world that we live in.

Pointers for prayer

Pray for:

  • all those who are remembering, with grief, the third anniversary of the earthquake in Nepal
  • the Christian Aid partners who are continuing to work there with communities as they rebuild their lives
  • the Christian Aid organisers across the UK in the lead-up to Christian Aid Week; that they would get all the help and support they need

We are grateful to Tim Presswood, member of Christian Aid’s worship and theology collective, Baptist regional minister for the North West of England, and one of the duo behind dancingscarecrow.org.uk.