Death Before Death
I read the above quote from Andy Root (one of my favorite theologians) on a blog this afternoon and I couldn't help but be captivated by it. I've often found myself searching for words to describe the transcendental nature of death, to make sense of how death is really behind the scenes of the empires and systems of the world. I've had students return my explanations with blank stares enough times to know that it can be hard to grasp and hard to see the presence of death in daily life. Blinded by the allure of prosperity and illusory success, death is hidden from our eyes. But as Andy said, "death puts on its hard hat and goes to work much earlier than the last moments before we stop breathing" and the systems of power and coercion thrive on it. If we deny the power of death within the systems of the world here and now then surely we will, on at least one important level, miss the point of the resurrection.
1 Corinthians 15 is like a treatise against death. In it, Paul proclaims, "For he [Christ] must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death." He goes on to say, "I face death every day..." The relevance of the resurrection is more than just for one final day when we take our last breath. The defeat of death is the triumph of Christ over all the principalities and powers that are readily present right now in the world around us. Death does not get the last word and it does not get to make claim on us now or ever. For resurrection is every day and we are invited to deny the structures and institutions of death and live in resurrection now in the face of death today.