Yesterday I read the obituary of Dr. David Jenkins, the former Bishop of Durham. He was a very radical, passionate believer and teacher. I remember hearing him speak at the General Synod about our understanding of the Virgin Birth and the Resurrection. He said the Resurrection was more than ‘a conjuring trick with bones’, that he was ‘not clear that God manoeuvres physical things but was clear that He works miracles through personal responses and faith’.
Bishop Jenkins challenged simplistic clichés and the way we often use words without thinking what they really mean. Of course he was mocked by the media especially at Easter when he was accused of not believing in the traditional statement about the bodily Resurrection of Jesus. As a statement of belief it poses more questions than it answers. Words matter and we need to use them with care.
A phrase that is used so very often is speaking of a dead person as having ‘passed away’. We don’t pass away or pass to the other side. We die. Even today people try to avoid speaking about death. At the heart of Christianity is the belief that Jesus died for our sins. He didn’t ‘pass away’ for them. He died.
So let us make sure we do use words with care and conviction.
Fr. Roger Brown