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No Comeback?

Ever been zinged? Stunned by what someone said to you? And you who seldom lack for words can't think of a thing to say. Not one single word. No response. No snappy comeback. Nothing but silence except inside your head as you process. Chew. Swallow. Digest. What just happened?

And maybe the experience wasn't verbal. Maybe it was something that just happened to you. Someone paid for your meal. A driver actually allowed you to merge in a construction zone. A friend stopped in unscheduled an hour after you received devastating news. Sheer gift. Grace. A shaky "thank you" forms in your heart and falls from your mouth. It's not enough and you know it. But you simply have no other comeback.

We respond most of the time with ease. Out of habits and patterns long established. We tease with those with whom we are comfortable and do our best to please those with whom we are more formal. Occasionally we rehearse. Generally we try to stay on our toes in order to flex and pivot when needed. At times we obsess. Other times we roll. It's life after all. And it's all we've got after all. Unless we believe there's more. A miraculous beyond. The divine comeback to death's punchline.

Preacher and teacher of preaching Fred Craddock once quipped something like, "The tomb they put Jesus in was a cave, not a tunnel." I think he means, no exit out the other end. No secret trap door. One way in. One way out. And it's part of what separates resurrection from resuscitation. Death seals the deal for real. Not a momentary lapse. Gone, we say, dead and gone. No comeback.

The Apostle Paul tries to write about resurrection in I Corinthians 15. Bless his pointy little head. Barbara Brown Taylor preaches a marvelous sermon on his brain straining attempt. She says, "A resurrection is a miracle of another order. There is no continuity with life as we know it. The spark is utterly extinguished. The heart stops. The legs curl up for good. Then, when everything is over, something entirely new begins. Creation occurs all over again - not a spark rescued from the ashes but a whole new fire kindled out of nothing - the gracious act of the only one who can make life out of dust, not just once upon a time, or even at the end of time, but over and over again."

The gospel writers each have their own version of Jesus' death, burial, and resurrection. But they all mention it. They tell the story because it's not just a good story to remember. There's a power in it and a truth to it. The hitch is in trusting it. Believing it to be more than it seems. And responding to it coming to life in us. Sheer gift. Grace. Our flimsy praise is never enough. But it's a start. We need not be clever or wise. God's got the final word after all!

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