Gain The Sky
No rack can torture me,
My soul’s at liberty
Behind this mortal bone
There knits a bolder one – Emily Dickinson, “Emancipation”
And when from death I’m free, I’ll sing on, I’ll sing on;
And when from death I’m free, I’ll sing on.
And when from death I’m free, I’ll sing and joyful be;
And through eternity, I’ll sing on, I’ll sing on;
And through eternity, I’ll sing on. – “What Wondrous Love Is This?”, verse 4
It’s all real, you know. Every word, every thought, every are-filled imagining. There really is an empty tomb. There really are women who see and believe. There really is Peter, waiting hesitantly at the door. There really are two men, robed in white, asking them why they seek the living among the dead. There really is this sudden appearance, in a locked room.
Perhaps this or that detail might be different. Perhaps more words were exchanged than were remembered and conveyed to us. Perhaps the fact that Jesus, being alive, still bears the scars of his unjust murder, was more bold to those who saw him first than is conveyed on the page. This might well be one time that the small things aren’t as important as the whole picture.
It’s all real. Every bit of it. And because it’s real all that Jesus said, and did, all his mighty acts and humble words now mean exactly what they meant. Standing here, in Jerusalem, among those he called, and named by name, all Creation sees the first fruits, the buds and stalks pushing through the ground, of the Kingdom of God.
We stand in awe today. In a joy too enormous for words, filled with more laughter than any of the tears shed just a couple days before, we recall this Easter morning that the whole world – the whole Universe – is not the same now. What was before the sunrise is now gone. What is, and is yet to come – that is both our present reality and our hope for the future. It is the time of the Triune God now, pulling our present forward to it. And just because it is the time of this God, made real for all Creation in the Son, for the Father, through the Spirit, all time and all places are being made holy and new even as that future not just beckons us, but stretches out, grabs hold, and carries all that is toward this future.
Like the raised Jesus, we shall all bear the scars and marks of what has been. Like the raised Jesus, those marks shall cause no pain, bring no suffering, but rather serve as reminders that death and pain and suffering and loss once held sway but have all been defeated, swallowed up in to this new life in and through the Risen Jesus Christ. We have nothing to fear. Not death, not horror, not evil – these are still present, of course, because Creation has yet to travel the distance toward the Divine Future that shall become the Eternal Present before God – can hold us anymore. Even here, between the times, we live in the light of this moment, and rather than cower, we laugh and sing. When we mourn, we know it is not the end. So we sing. When all manner of evils afflict us and our world, we fight and struggle against them knowing what they refuse to acknowledge: They have all ready lost. Even if they triumph over us and ours for the moment, these victories will not last. All creation, including all that seeks to dissolve creation, will one day lower its head while on bended knee and acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord. When we recall that, and live in the light of it, we remember there are no defeats, that death is not final.
Most of all, we are blessed to believe that all our burdens, all we carried along with us on our way to Jerusalem, our sin and pain and guilt and failure; our propensity toward violence, our love of death; all this has been taken away from us. It is forgotten. Indeed, as far as God is concerned, it never existed. Our call is to live in the light of this new day, this New Thing that God has always said would come. For that reason, all that separated us from God is now taken up in to the life of the Godhead. God has no more mind for it. It is gone. Ours is a calling to life. Hanging around among the dead is no longer an option.
This joy, this peace, this freedom – it is ours. Each day now is Easter. Each day now is a New Day.
Because he died, and now lives, nothing is the same. Hold on to that and and we can feel ourselves soar. Because we are free.