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.

The Joy of Lent

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Our hearts are deceitful.
We are often able to convince ourselves that while we may have a bit of clutter here, a messy corner there, we are mostly company-ready.
The truth is that we are homes in need of a total overhaul.
It is good now and then to take time to look deeply and ask God what He sees when He looks at our hearts.
This is Lent.
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Lent has the bad reputation of being the time of year we put on our most mournful faces and give up something we love.
Quite the opposite, rather. Lent should be a time of excitement, a time when we leave shallow desires behind for our deepest longing of all, unity with Jesus.
It is meant to be the church’s springtime, a time when, out of the darkness of sin’s winter, a repentant, empowered people emerges. ~ Bread and Wine
Forest snow 1
During this season of Lent, we are marked by ashes of penitence, marked by the sign of the cross. We are asked to boldly confront the horror of our sin, which crucified Christ.
It is, after all, only when we have seen our sin for the monstrosity it is that we are able to die with Christ and thus share in His resurrection and triumph.
Use the opportunity that is Lent to confront that feeling of lingering guilt, that nagging sensation that you are missing something. No more making excuses, no more hanging on to the remaining shreds of goodness you think you have; rather ask God to show you what you truly look like.
We must face up to the reality that it was our sin that sent Jesus to the tortures of the cross.
The joy of Lent comes when we truly see our sin and turn from it into Christ’s open arms. It comes when we understand that the very cross on which we hung Jesus is the same cross that cleanses us from our sin.
Once we have looked full on our sin, we must turn away from ourselves and look full in the face of Christ. Let His resurrection propel you into the abundant life He promised. The life that is the beginning of making God’s kingdom a reality here on earth.
Let us use Lent as a time of repentence and fasting so that at the end of this season we are able to step boldly out of the winter of our sin. It is spring, and we have the power of the risen Christ in us.
He has risen!
He has risen, indeed!

Resurrection Made Dull

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They heard God’s voice and ignored it.
And not that “still, small voice” of God’s way down in the depths of their hearts, either.
They heard His loud, audible, filling-up-the-sky voice, just after Jesus came riding into Jerusalem on a donkey, and they ignored it.
They explained it away. They looked for the rain that must come since it was thundering, or even went so far as to call it an angel.
Anything but the voice of God.
Some things are too astounding, too wondrous for our hearts to accept.
The resurrection is one of those things.
The resurrection is anything but dull. The story of God becoming man, being defeated by man, and rising again to defeat death is the most heroic tale of all.
That man should play the tyrant over God and find Him a better man than himself is an astonishing drama indeed. ~ Dorothy Sayers
But it is hard to accept that we cannot save ourselves. It is humiliating to acknowledge that there is absolutely no way we can cleanse our own hearts. It is a bitter and unendurable truth that we are hopelessly imprisoned in our shadows and darkness.
The resurrection throws its light over our darkness in such a daring, audacious way that our helplessness is impossible to ignore.
So we choose to explain away the resurrection or else we attempt to dull its edges so that we cannot be cut.
We choose to explain it away as Jesus’ teachings becoming immortal in the manner of Shakespeare, or as the spirit of Jesus living on in us in the manner of Socrates, or as simply a manner of speaking in the symbolism of the human spirit conquering all.
Yet the resurrection refuses to be explained away.
You can call it nonsense or you can call it lies, but you cannot call it poetry.
You can deny the resurrection and live mired in the fear of inexorable death or you can believe the resurrection and allow it to bring you hopeful life in the now, but you cannot claim to believe in the resurrection and continue on in your darkness and dread.
The remarkable thing about it is that the real truth of the resurrection seems to be too strong for us, because it will not suffer itself to be hidden or concealed in these harmless clothes. ~ Karl Barth
Resurrection always bursts forth, rising up and shouting, “Do you truly believe that the only reason Jesus came, suffered, and died was to bring you empty comfort in the middle of the reality of life?”
No. Unequivocally no. The truth of the resurrection gives us certainty of our outcome. The truth of the resurrection gives us perfect assurance that death is, indeed, defeated and that we are, indeed, able to be presented before God pure and holy.
The truth of the resurrection blazes forth and tells us that everything has changed.
Truth is extraordinary, never dull.