The First Day of the Week
Our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom all things were made in the beginning, has initiated the new creation. Just as in the first beginning, Jesus completed the work—living among us, proclaiming Kingdom-come, casting out demons, healing the sick, mending the broken, confronting the powers and the evil that pulls their strings, taking their best shot, and dying—crying, “It is finished!”
His cry turned out to be the most delightful and wonderful double entendre. The powers, of course, understood the one meaning—yes, indeed, would-be Messiah and King dead as dead can be, problem solved! But they had no idea. Later the Apostle Paul would observe, if they had had any clue at all what they were doing they would not have crucified the Lord of glory (1 Cor. 2:8). No indeed.
The other, deeper and more powerful meaning was this: New Creation has now begun. And so, as Jesus declares the fact—it is finished, the Sabbath quickly comes. Just as in the first creation, so now, when the foundation for New Creation is set, then the God-man rests. Sabbath comes. And then …
On the first day of the week, from a Garden New Creation unfolds and those who bear the image of God made new begin living and working the New Creation as deeply and widely as reality runs.
On the first day of the week, there Jesus is—death undone, evil disarmed. LIFE explodes … and as the dust clears and the debris settles it dawns on us that this was the biggest bang of all, spraying shrapnel of beauty, goodness and truth everywhere.
On the first day of the week, God unleashes a weapon of mass-creation against which the old order has no defense.
On the first day of the week, Jesus rises as the ultimate deal-maker, shouting a “YES” so loudly and lovingly that no “NO” can ultimately stand.
On the first day of the week, the clock springs forward signaling the start of DAY-LIGHT SAVING-TIME!
For the first followers of Messiah-Jesus, Easter brought joy unspeakable and full of glory. Truly, full of glory—glory as in Shekinah glory. Glory as when the Holy One is in the House, and everything stops but what he starts, and nothing continues but what he does. Glory as when the Holy One is in the House and the House turns out to be the world; no, the universe; No, whatever else there may be that is more and all of that!
On the first day of the week, there began a week like there’d never been before. If he is risen then the reality of new creation is happening and it will continue to happen until it’s the only thing happening!
If death is not final, life is—a life- form the world hadn’t yet seen. If death is not final, then the ways that once seemed so right, that felt so good, that suckered so many and trapped them, stifling them, killing them—those ways lose their attraction, relax their grip, and fall off along with Jesus’ grave clothes. No one needs to go there ever again. FREEDOM INDEED!
If death is not final, then what’s broken can be fixed, what’s twisted can be straightened, and what’s sick can be healed—in and with individuals, among and between peoples, all across the city, state, nation, and world.
If death is not final, then even the world can be “born again.”
On the first day of the week we wake up to our true identity: We are Easter people. We celebrate the day, but in stunning ways we are host to Easter outbreaks, not everywhere but here and there. We can tell stories of “churches” where Shekinah glory hovers, life flows out and blesses communities who recognize how good it is they are there. Stories of human wrecks salvaged, broken relationships reconciled, and weaknesses made strong with grave-busting power so that addictions are surrendered and swallowed up in freedom.
On the first day of the week, we tell stories of hard, even depressing economic time triggering a generosity of one another help, and intensifying hope. Stories of ears that are tuning in to the cries of the poor and needy, and eyes that cry with them, and mouths that cry for them, until somehow good news words and deeds come, take hold and make a difference.
On the first day of the week, Easter people tell stories of churches once as good as dead, though regularly attended by a few faithful who bring fresh flowers now and again—sometimes even Easter lilies—indeed, dead I say, but then called from the tomb to LIFE, now living Easter and routinely robbing graves of their intended victims.
On the first day of the week, we tell stories of new churches that don’t look like churches at all, especially to the walking-dead of the community who’ve had the impression that “church” was a euphemism for “death-trap.” But these churches don’t look that way, nor do they sound or smell that way, and so the walking-dead get close enough to catch a serious case of LIFE. Now they wonder what to do with this new thing they’ve suddenly got—they keep forgetting what it’s called, and we have to keep telling them, it’s called a FUTURE!
On the first day of the week, we can tell stories and we can write some new stories. We can and we will until the first day of the week is the only day, the YES is all we hear, Life and Light, Holiness and Wholeness, is all we know.
On the first day of the week, we tell and live the story, we enter more boldly into the mission of Jesus, claim the cities, set captives free, countering the dynamics of violence and pain until they are fully spent, and so the earth is full of the glory of God as the waters cover the sea, and the whole world is healed by the steadfast love of the Lord.