Anastasis, which means “up” or “rising,” is the ancient Greek word used by Orthodox Christianity for what the churches of Western Christianity call “resurrection.” While the English translation of the word is “resurrection,” anastasis holds a somewhat different understanding from the modern Western Church. The Western Church (rooted in Augustine) describes resurrection individually: Christ rises triumphantly and magnificently—but utterly alone. The Eastern Orthodox Church celebrates a more universal resurrection. Christ rises triumphantly and magnificently—and takes all of creation with him. Universal resurrection underlines the contrast between Rome’s violence and Jesus’ nonviolence.
In today’s reading, the apostles have been arrested and brought to the high priest for defying the order of the Sanhedrin not to teach in Jesus’ name. The apostles are charged with intending “to bring this man’s blood upon us.” Peter and the others say, “We must obey God rather than any human authority.”
Like the apostles, we know unquestioning obedience and loyalty to the powers of the state can lead us to dark places. We remember that blind obedience to Nazism led to the horrible violence of the Holocaust. After the death of Jesus, his followers become a persecuted community, and the apostles resist the obedience imposed by both the religious establishment and the state. We can see such resistance to injustice in our contemporary world. In recent months we have seen athletes “take a knee” as nonviolent resistance to racism as part of the Black Lives Matter Movement. Carefully and prayerfully ponder disobedience as an act of faithfulness.
Glory to you, Lord Christ; your death we show forth, your resurrection we proclaim, your coming we await. Amen. Come Lord Jesus.
After the resurrection of Jesus, the disciples are unable to remain silent. They go to the Temple to proclaim the gospel. Some receive the message, while others do not. This causes turmoil within the community, but the apostles stand firm in their testimony, inspired by the Holy Spirit. Psalm 150 might be on the lips of those early apostles. Everything that has breath should praise the Lord! The author of Revelation recounts a vision that he receives from the risen Jesus Christ, who one day will return as Lord of all nations. In John we learn more about the source of the confidence of the apostles. They have experienced Jesus in the flesh, and this experience gives power to their proclamation of the reality of his resurrection.
Read Acts 5:27-32. When has your faith compelled you to rise up, stand up, or kneel down in obedience to God rather than earthly authorities?
Read Psalm 150. When have you praised God with great noise? When have you praised God with quiet service to creation?
Read Revelation 1:4-8. How do you see peace arising out of violence in the Bible and in the world around you?
Read John 20:19-31. How have your experiences of witnessing violence or the results of violence helped you to understand that violence does not have the last word?
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