Sunday, March 27, 2005

Like The Sun From Out The Wave

"God paid a ransom to save us from the impossible road to heaven which our fathers tried to take, and the ransom he paid was not mere gold or silver. He paid for us with the precious lifeblood of Christ, the sinless, spotless Lamb of God." -- Peter 1:18-19

“They took the body down from the cross and one of the few rich men among the first Christians obtained permission to bury it in a rock tomb in his garden; the Romans setting a military guard lest there should be some riot and attempt to recover the body. There was once more a natural symbolism in these natural proceedings; it was well that the tomb should be sealed with all the secrecy of ancient eastern sepulture and guarded by the authority of the Caesars. For in that second cavern the whole of that great and glorious humanity which we call antiquity was gathered up and covered over; and in that place it was buried. It was the end of a very great thing called human history; the history that was merely human. The mythologies and the philosophies were buried there, the gods and the heroes and the sages. In the great Roman phrase, they had lived. But as they could only live, so they could only die; and they were dead.

“On the third day the friends of Christ coming at daybreak to the place found the grave empty and the stone rolled away. In varying ways they realised the new wonder; but even they hardly realised that the world had died in the night. What they were looking at was the first day of a new creation, with a new heaven and a new earth; and in a semblance of the gardener God walked again in the garden, in the cool not of the evening but the dawn.”

-- G. K. Chesterton, The Everlasting Man

In a sense, it is easy to be an "Easter " person. Glory. Joy. Sadness forgotten.

But the joy has no depth, no substance, unless we remember that there is no Easter without Good Friday. Without the misery of Hell, we have no glory of Heaven.

We cannot fool ourselves that life is all Easter Sundays. The Good Fridays will come to us. As a wise priest once said, if you haven't seen Good Friday yet, if you haven't yours yet, don't worry, it will find you. But the glory of Easter, the abiding joy that exists even in the face of suffering and death, is what transcends the Good Fridays of our existence.

Christ's Resurrection is not a metaphor. It is not a myth borne of group hypnosis. And it is not just emotional anaesthetic to help us believe in a loving world of round edges and happy endings. Easter celebrates a historical fact that provides a new and permanent way of seeing the world and making sense of the whole sweep of history and of our own, individual lives.

As Chesterton notes, the Death and Resurrection of Christ ended the old world with brilliant and Satan-crushing finality, and opened the door to a mind-shattering new eternity. Christ, in his Resurrection, brings us to the threshold of hope, to a wondrous new Eden.


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