The Congregation at Duke University Chapel


photo of Andrew

In meditating on the Gospel story from this past Sunday, I heard something new.

Perhaps it is because I’m in a discussion group with a group of young adults about faith and politics, but Jesus’ words to his disciples struck me as pregnant with the political implications for the Resurrection life, both then and now.

artists depiction of the meeting in a house

The scene opens with the disciples hiding in a house with the doors locked for fear of the Jewish authorities, the same ones who had conspired to have Jesus executed. I wonder if their fear was beginning to turn toward anger and a desire to avenge the death of their leader and friend. I can imagine my own reaction, my own willingness to ignore what Jesus had taught me about being a peacemaker in order to satisfy my hunger for violence and retribution.

It is in this moment that Jesus appears, and his first word is one of peace. He shows the disciples his wounds—the marks of his torture and execution—and again, his word is peace. In his wounds Jesus shows us his commitment to the peace he proclaims: he would rather suffer violence, brutality, and even death rather than abandon nonviolence.

And in case the disciples miss his message, he breathes on them the Holy Spirit, the very power and presence of God. This gift of the Spirit is not the authority to destroy or seek vengeance, but the power of suffering love to forgive and set free.

Lest we reduce the Resurrection to the purely spiritual or contain it to the merely physical, Jesus forces us to reckon with the way his victory over sin and death is fundamentally political.

How does the Resurrection shape our response to the particular political challenges of the United States in 2018? That’s a more complicated question, and the answer can only be found as we gather as disciples and allow the Spirit to guide and shape our witness to the Risen Christ.

I invite you to be in prayer for me and the young adults in the Chapel community as we begin that work over the next few weeks. My prayer for our discussions, and for the whole Church, is that we might hear a new thing in the familiar stories of this Easter season, and allow the Risen Christ to speak peace to our politics.