OUr Easter service was based on the Advent/Christmas tradition of lessons and carols. The service included a creation story, God's Covenant with Israel, the Coming of Christ, his resurrection and the promise of the Spirit who would send us out into the world. We sang hymns connected to these passages. We celebrated Salvation History!
God created. That’s where the story begins. God created the earth—and the earth beings—adams—giving them the beautiful creation. The Biblical witness begins with testimony to the God who loved creation into existence, and, who created human beings, giving them the breath of life. We learn, quickly, that this breath of life includes freedom, the freedom to stray from the very goodness and grace that gave and gives us life.
Yet, God persists in love. God called Abraham and Sarah, promising that from them a nation would grow. Then, when their descendants were enslaved in Egypt, God acted to deliver them. As they found a new freedom, God pledged to continue to be with them, and offered them what we call the Ten Commandments. We hear commandment and think of limitations on our freedoms. Jewish scholars suggest we see them as a pathway that helps us move into the freedom that God intends.
Over and over, in what we call the Old Testament, God’s people stray – and God persists in seeking them out, in offering redemption, in bringing them back to the goodness that the loving God intends for them.` Ultimately, God chose a new way, a radical way to show love to people who strayed. God, the almighty, entered into the very creation God had created. John’s prologue tells us of the Cosmic Christ, the eternal Word, who entered the world and offered a new relationship with God. “To those who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God.”
The theologian Juergen Moltman suggested that the incarnation and resurrection were a defining moment in human history. In fact, they were a transforming moment in human history. It changed the way God interacted with humanity and the world. If we were to diagram his theological hypothesis, we might think of an hourglass lying on its side. Human history leads toward the center when God enters the world in the person of Jesus. In Jesus, God and God’s ways are newly revealed, intimately revealed. Then, God’s very self, present in Jesus, is crucified. It is the ultimate rejection of God, of God’s ways and of God’s good intent. Yet, God persisted in love. God responded to the rejection the cross represents and raised Jesus the Christ from the dead three days later. In that resurrection, the divide between the creation and God’s presence was bridged. Matthew’s account of the crucifixion told us that the curtain in the temple was torn in two – that is, the curtain that separated the outside world from the Holy of Holies – the place where the very presence of God dwelt.
That new reality – that God is not remote, that heaven is not remote, then infuses human life. And those who have seen the Christ are invited to participate in God’s continuing work in the world. The Spirit continues God’s persistent, loving presence and we are invited to join in that presence, guided by the Spirit.
When we celebrate this day only as an event that took place several thousand years ago, we miss sight of God’s redemptive presence, poured out into this world in its creation and in God’s calling people to know the goodness of life. We miss sight of the good news of Jesus the Christ, who brought God’s presence to earth in a new way. And, we lose the power of the resurrection – not a someday promise, but a promise for today and for tomorrow – a promise that matters for the very creation which God has given us. I wish I had chosen a different title for today’ meditation. I think a better one would have been “God’s Persistent Love!” Christ is risen. That is a today reality – not yesterday. We look back because the story grounds us for the joy to be found in God’s triumph over all that would separate us from God’s great love. In that love we are freed. Amen.