Ghosts and Ghosting
While they were talking, Jesus himself stood among them. They were terrified and thought they were seeing a ghost. He said, “Why are you frightened, and why do doubts arise in your hearts? Look at my hands and my feet. Touch me and see; for a ghost does not have flesh and bones.” – Luke 24:36-39 (NRSV, excerpted)
Luke says that you know resurrection is true when the one who appears to you claiming to be Jesus offers you real flesh and bone. When the one who announces, “Fear not, it is I!” shows you hands and feet, wounds and scars. When the ghost firms up, solid, human, touchable.
The church appears in the world announcing new life, too. In the name of the living Christ we say, “Fear not!” We tell the oppressed it’s not foolish to hope, we encourage the suffering to take heart, we assure the despised that God is on their side. We declare that love wins. That it always wins.
But the world can be forgiven for shrinking from us if we who claim to have been raised with Christ can’t offer our bodies as proof of our claims. If we are fleshless, boneless, woundless, untouchable. If we don’t have real human skin in the game. The world is right to doubt if we waft through its pain crying, “Resurrection!” but disappear when it wants to touch and see.
Luke wants us to understand that resurrection is bodily. And that every promise of life we make needs to have flesh on it, too. Suffering people don’t need a church that ghosts them.
May your church startle the world with its resurrected presence, O Christ. Don’t let us be ghosts, but make us your living, breathing Body—solid, touchable, and on the line.
Mary Luti is a long time seminary educator and pastor, author of Teresa of Avila’s Way and numerous articles, and founding member of The Daughters of Abraham, a national network of interfaith women’s book groups.