The second of three meditations on the Mystery of our Faith, “Christ has died; Christ is risen; Christ will come again.” The Mysterium Fidei – as familiar as it is unfathomable, and what it means for us in the gritty reality of our days.
While we meet Christ in the broken places, it’s in His resurrection from the dead that we find strength and power to work toward healing. Christ is alive; death no longer has the last word. The resurrection we celebrate at Easter is God’s answer to all that conspires to harm us, and the final, decisive blow against all that seeks to destroy His beautiful creation.
Because Jesus was raised from the dead – at an actual point in time and history – it means that He is alive and present today, working in and through us as He brings about a new, perfectly healed world. It means that none of the work you or I do, if rooted in the hope of His resurrection, is in vain – no matter how futile it may seem now. (Perhaps you, like me, can relate to certain feelings of inefficacy from time to time? ;-)
But what of the 147 Garissa University students and their families, mourning in the wake of Kenya’s April 2nd attacks? Or the ongoing conflicts in Tunisia, Syria and Yemen? What to make of a pilot turning the nose of his plane into the ground, or of a deadly virus ravaging a subcontinent? News events from the the past week alone tell a story of seemingly endless strife, and there are no easy answers. Yet into the storyline of our world, even here, the resurrection offers the assurance of profound and sustaining hope.
“For the joy that was set before him” Jesus “endured the cross.” He fixed his gaze on the completion of His joy. That gaze sustained the greatest act of love that ever was. The same gaze – the completion of our joy in God – will sustain us as well.
~ John Piper
Indeed, the resurrection of Jesus promises that the day is coming when we will finally rejoice with Him, receiving back all that was lost, receiving anew even that which never was, however deeply longed-for. And just as Christ’s scars are visible even in heaven – though shining now with a radiantly transformed beauty – so too will our frustrations, disappointments and heartaches large and small become for us our greatest glory. Could there be a more profound defeat of evil?*
And yet there is a poignancy in this joy. Although we look forward to the day when things are finally put right, that day has not yet come. All around us, in the unfolding stories of our lives and those around us, we are reminded that we are still far from home. We live in the “overlap of the ages” as we await (and earnestly work towards) the fulfillment of a promise made one bright Easter dawn, two thousand years ago. It is a promise of perfect flourishing and wholeness, a world in which everything is finally put right again under the reign of the returning King.
But that, too, is a story for another day…
Yet hints come to me from the realm unknown;
Airs drift across the twilight border land,
Odoured with life; and as from some far strand
Sea-murmured, whispers to my heart are blown
That fill me with a joy I cannot speak,
Yea, from whose shadow words drop faint and weak:
Thee, God, I shadow in that region grand.
Diary of an Old Soul
*To delve more deeply into this incredible theme, click here or on the sermon linked above.