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Reflection from our Diocesan Spiritual Advisor (The Rev. Lee Weissel), April 2024

Lee Weissel

Easter 2024

"All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”  Matthew 28:18-20

The words from the final chapter of Matthew’s Gospel are given to us to understand how Jesus understands what it means to be resurrected. And these words give us great hope and assurance. From Jesus’ own mouth comes his understanding. Jesus tells us he is present now and always.

Jesus is explaining what the resurrection means now in a changed world. He tells us four things right there. He’s by the right hand of the throne of the universe, he’s in the ministry of the gospel, he’s with the community of his people, and he’s at the end of the world. That’s the meaning of the resurrection. Because he’s raised, that’s where he is.

J.R.R. Tolkien said one of the big problems we have in the modern world is we think of drama as real art, and we think of the fairy tale, the fantasy, the romance, as not true art anymore. He uses two words: dyscatastrophe and eucatastrophe. Dyscatastrophe, which literally means a bad catastrophe, is a catastrophe that ends in sorrow.

Eucatastrophe, starts with eu (which is a Greek word that means good), is a catastrophe that ends in joy: a turn of events, life out of death, triumph out of what looks like defeat, triumph out of what looks like a complete failure. He says the essence of drama is tragedy, dyscatastrophe. But he says there is a kind of art form, that is the happy ending, the success beyond hope.

He says it’s something, of course, we now in the twentieth century insist that happy endings happen only for children’s stories. That has never been true. Fairy tales were not for children. Legends were not for children. The old stories were not for children until the twentieth century.

What’s he talking about?. Things look worse and worse and worse. Things look like there’s no hope, and all of a sudden there’s a turn. All of a sudden, beyond anything we could’ve imagined, it’s all right. Happy ending.

The twentieth century has said, “That’s for children.” It punished Steven Spielberg for years because all of his movies had happy endings. They said, “That’s for kids.” They wouldn’t give him an Oscar until he started making movies that had nasty endings, sad endings, until they ended in dyscatastrophe. All the stuff that had eucatastrophe, “No, that’s for children.”

Here’s why. The modern world says, “Oh, look at that. Here you’re crying at the end of Superman, you’re crying at the end of E.T., you’re crying at the end of Star Wars. It’s wonderful. It’s incredible to see, but that’s for kids.” Do you know why? Because the modern world says, “Life is not like that. The universe is not like that.” Jesus Christ says, “Oh, yes it is. The world is like that. The crosses will be swallowed up in a resurrection. I stand at the end of the age. I am the world’s happy ending.”

Tolkien goes on and says this, “The Gospels contain a story of a larger kind which embraces all the essence of stories. They contain many marvels—peculiarly artistic, beautiful, and moving: ‘mythical’ in their perfect, self-contained significance; and among the marvels is the greatest and most complete conceivable eucatastrophe. But this story has entered History and the primary world; the desire and aspiration of sub-creation has been raised to the fulfillment of Creation.

The Birth of Christ is the eucatastrophe of Human history. The Resurrection is the eucatastrophe of the story of the Incarnation. This story begins and ends in joy.  There is no tale ever told that people would rather find was true, and none which so many skeptical people have accepted as true on its own merits.

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