Echoes of Creation

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He is risen!
He is risen
He is risen from the grave and He is alive!
He is alive
We rejoice in knowing that our debt is paid, that we will one day be with the God we love.
Yet perhaps you sometimes wonder. Is Easter only for our someday? Is there no piece of Easter that gives purpose for our today?
In the beginning…
In the beginning
John the Apostle begins his gospel with echoes back to Genesis.
In the beginning…
As he tells his gospel story, you can hear the reverberations of creation all throughout.
On that first day of creation, God spoke and there was light.
In the beginning was the Word…and the light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it.
Skipping ahead, on the sixth day of creation, God created man.
On Friday, the sixth day of the week, Pilate brings Jesus out before the people and declares, Ecce homo!
Behold, the man!
The new man. The new Adam. The man who was as we were created to be, who shows us what it means to be human and then offers himself as a sacrifice, thus making it possible for us to become like him.
On day seven, God rested.
On Saturday, the seventh day, God is in the tomb.
And then.
Listen to the way John tells what happened next.
Early on the first day of the week…
Early in the morning
Do you hear it?
John is so deliberate with his words.
The first day of the week.
This is what Easter brings to our today.
The first day of the week. The first day of new creation.
On the first day of the week
Christ, his death and resurrection, has made a way for us to begin again. The old is gone away, the new has come. God’s kingdom is come to earth bringing restoration and healing in its wake.
As we obey Jesus’ instructions to love each other, to feed his sheep, we are allowed to help bring God’s kingdom to earth.
This is what Easter gives.
A chance to be a part of the new creation as it happens.
new creation
He is risen!
He is risen indeed.

Art credits: Space photo by NASA; Creation of Adam by Michelangelo; light photos by Kirk Sewell; all other photos by Elizabeth Giger, copyright 2017.

Living Generous

It is often difficult to be generous.  It is hard to give freely of our time, our resources, our hearts.
Giving Freely
It is often difficult to trust.  It is hard to open ourselves to others, leaving ourselves vulnerable to betrayal.
Staying Vulnerable
It is often difficult to see the abundance that is in God, and perhaps this is why it is so difficult to give it all away.
The Widow's Mite
The widow whom Jesus noticed giving up her last coins in the temple could see this abundance.  She saw how beautiful and full living in God’s life could be.  She saw what we must open our own eyes to see: that we can only be generous and trust God with our lives when we see that our life in God, this kingdom of God here on earth, is abounding in life and love and joy.
Yes, we live in a broken, fallen world, but we don’t have to wait for the end of all things for God’s rule on earth to begin.  Something occurred in creation when Jesus was raised from the dead.  Something began at the resurrection that begins to bring God’s new life to this earth here and now.  Paul speaks of us, among other things, as a new creation in Christ.  I am not a theologian, so I do not pretend to understand how this happens or even exactly what is occurring.
Live Generously
Yet perhaps part of what this means is that we are called to bear witness to the perfect life in God, the perfect life of Genesis 1 & 2 and Revelation 21 & 22.  We are called to live life in a way that bears witness to the perfection that we as well as all of creation will become, and perhaps simply living a witness kind of life is the way in which we are right now bringing God’s kingdom to fruition in our world.
When we act, as followers of Jesus Christ in the world, as if the limitations of this world set the boundaries for how we can act, then we are…failing in our witness to the cosmic redemption that has been accomplished in Jesus Christ ~ Jonathan Wilson, author of God’s Good World: Reclaiming the Doctrine of Creation
So let us live lives full of generosity and trust, opening our eyes to the abundance of life around us.  The very same abundance that is ours in a witness life in Christ.

Art Credit: The Widow’s Mite by James Tissot

New Excitement

What is it about the word “new” that makes us so excited?

New life, new try, new baby, new piano.

I’m not big on resolutions, but there’s something about the start of a new year that makes me hopeful.

I’m certainly ready for this year to be over. Along with this ongoing, hard thing, my dad had open-heart surgery and my husband lost his last two grandparents this year.

My eldest knows more vocabulary about death than any three year old should know.

I’m ready for new.

A new year. A new start. A new attempt.

Thinking about new makes me want to explore God’s idea of new. Will you explore with me?

The first idea that came to my mind was the new covenant.

I’ve always been struck by the ridiculousness of the idea that God would make any sort of a promise with us, that He would uphold His side of the covenant even when we fail to keep our own promise, but I’ve never explored the idea that it is a new covenant.

‘The time is coming,’ declares the LORD, ‘when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah. It will not be like the covenant I made with their forefathers…because they broke my covenant…’ declares the LORD. This is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel after that time,’ declares the LORD. ‘I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people.’ ~ Jeremiah 31.31-33

I can already see that I will be jumping between the Old and New Testaments to explore this word.

So what is the new covenant that God makes with us, the covenant that is different from the one that we broke?

In the same way, after the supper He took the cup, saying, ‘This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you.’ ~ Luke 22.20

Jesus. That birth we just finished celebrating leads to the new covenant drenched in His blood.

Hebrews 8 and 9 talks through all of the fascinating details of the old covenant and how it foreshadows the new covenant. Towards the end, after explaining the system of sacrificing goats and bulls and using their blood to take away the sins of the people, the author of Hebrews says this: 

How much more, then, will the blood of Christ…cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God! For this reason, Christ is the mediator of a new covenant, that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance–now that He has died as a ransom to set them free from the sins committed under the first covenant.

I sit, sit awash in gratitude for this new covenant that cost so much.  The new covenant leads my mind around to another use of the word “new”: in Christ, we are a new person, a new creation.

Back to the Old Testament. God promises in Ezekiel 36

I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you, I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.

The fulfillment of that promise? 

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! ~ II Corinthians 5.17

And this:

You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. ~ Ephesians 4.22-24

Praise God!!! What mercy! What grace!

Again, I sit in gratitude, in silence, letting this beauty wash over me.

Because God was willing to make a new covenant with us when we broke the original one, because Christ was willing to spill His blood to seal this covenant, I am now a new creation in Christ, created to be like God!

And as I sit in gratitude, I can’t help but think of the new that is still ahead of us.

Isaiah prophecies this beautiful thing in Isaiah 65

Behold, I will create new heavens and a new earth. The former things will not be remembered, nor will they come to mind…I will rejoice over Jerusalem and take delight in my people; the sound of weeping and of crying will be heard in it no more. Never again will there be in it an infant who lives but a few days, or an old man who does not live out his years…my chosen ones will long enjoy the works of their hands.

We are given a beautiful glimpse of the future fulfillment of all of this in Revelation 21

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away…and I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, ‘Now the dwelling of God is with men, and He will live with them. They will be His people, and God Himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.’ He who was seated on the throne said, ‘I am making everything new!’ Then He said, ‘Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.’

It sounds as though God Himself gets excited about the word “new”.

Perhaps our own excitement over new things in this world is there for a reason, was placed deep inside of us by Him in Whose image we were created, was given to us to point us toward the most beautiful new thing of all.

I’m participating over at A Holy Experience in the Walk with Him series. Join me?

Art credits: Last Supper by Da Vinci; cross and winter sky by Davenport; cross and sunset by vivekchugh; Golden City