April 2014 Meeting Summary

North Lincolnshire Progressive Christianity Network Group

This group has met on the first Saturday morning of each month for a number of years now. It consists of churchgoers and non-churchgoers alike. Our aim is to provide an environment for honest and open conversation rather than to try to convert. We have recently decided to publish a brief summary of our conversations, highlighting key areas of questioning or of insight. This is our third bulletin reviewing the discussion at our April meeting. This was based on the chapter entitled Easter from Tony Windross’s book, The Thoughtful Guide to Faith.

We started by resolving to give our own testimony about what the Resurrection means for each one of us. Some centred their comments on the significance of what happened two millennia ago after the death of Jesus while others found their focus on the continuing significance of the Resurrection in their own lives.

Deliberations on the nature of Christ’s resurrection touched on - but by no means obsessively - whether it had to be interpreted as a rising of the body. A few had found this a stumbling block to their acceptance of Christianity in the past. Others were quite prepared to accept the resurrection of the body on the grounds, firstly that we cannot limit the powers of God from our human perspective and secondly that the division of Soul and Body was an inadequate Greek - not Jewish - concept anyway. They were nevertheless happy with those who preferred to see it as the evangelists’ expression of an extraordinary mental, psychological and spiritual effect on first those closest to Jesus and then others, like Paul, who had never known Jesus. One said that he did not see the mythologising of the historical life of Jesus as a reduction of the truth but as an enhancement of the rich meaning of the gospels while another reminded us that the Jews (like most of us?) liked to present their deepest thoughts and feelings through the telling of stories. One member of the group felt that Windross had left God out of Easter. He thought it essential to see it in the context of Good Friday and particularly Pentecost. Another applauded this comment and said that part of the process was God’s being there and then letting go so that the early Church could be born. Another also agreed that, while he found the chapter liberating, it was important not to throw out the baby with the bath water and there was a danger of losing the foundations of our beliefs.

The other strand of enquiry - with the focus on our lives today - was often very moving. It ranged from the simple assertion that Jesus was for one member as real as anyone in the room - and that was the meaning of the Resurrection for her. Another found a piece from Richard Holloway who said that Resurrection was the “refusal to be imprisoned any longer by history and its long hatreds…it is the determination to take the first steps out of the tomb.” Richard Holloway continues by saying that the resurrection only has meaning if we belief in transformed lives, transformed attitudes and transformed societies. The action is the proof of the belief”. Two or three others also said that what interested them was not what happened so many years ago, particularly noting the problems which language and differing modes of communication presented us with. As one said, she had been listening to the conversation and thought, “So what?” What matters was the significance for each of us today.

We all could wholeheartedly agree with our last sentiment that the meaning of the Resurrection could be only obscured if one attempted too precise and exclusive an interpretation. The wonderful stories at the end of the gospels lose their impact if one over-interprets them. The mystery and the paradoxes are intrinsic to the meaning. There was a quotation from another article: “We can never pin Jesus’ God down or analyse him - for the living bird is not its labelled bones.”

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