1After the sabbath, as the first day of the week was dawning, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to see the tomb. 2And suddenly there was a great earthquake; for an angel of the Lord, descending from heaven, came and rolled back the stone and sat on it. 3His appearance was like lightning, and his clothing white as snow. 4For fear of him the guards shook and became like dead men. 5But the angel said to the women, "Do not be afraid; I know that you are looking for Jesus who was crucified. 6He is not here; for he has come to life again, even as he said. Come, see the place where he lay. 7Then go quickly and tell his disciples, "He has been raised from the dead, and indeed he is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see him.' This is my message for you."
8So they left the tomb quickly with fear and great joy, and ran to tell his disciples. 9Suddenly Jesus met them and said, "Greetings!" And they came to him, took hold of his feet, and worshiped him. 10Then Jesus said to them, "Do not be afraid; go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me."
This is the feast of victory for all creation, alleluia!
Loving God of earth and heaven—God of resurrection!
We rejoice in this new day you have made and given us.
Jesus has died
Jesus has been buried
Christ has been raised from the grave...
and opened the gates of heaven, alleluia!
You have brought former things to pass
And you have made all things new, alleluia!
God of resurrection!
We know there's more to come!
Easter day is only the beginning.
Praise and glory, endlessly throughout eternity,
In the name of the crucified and risen One,
Alleluia, Amen, Alleluia!!!
Someone on twitter said Lent 2020 had been the Lentiest Lent they'd ever lented. Every year, slow-moving, reflective Lent segues into the Day of Resurrection, a feast so splendiferous the church celebrates it for fifty days. And...? Amidst this ongoing pandemic, the world can bear no more. We think we know "the rest of the story" because we testify to God as God of life, but – for some reason – resurrection always surprises us. Still. There's more to come! Easter day is only the beginning.
The Eighth Day
Matthew 28:2 There was a "great earthquake" at Jesus' resurrection. And Matthew 27:51 tells us there was a great earthquake when Jesus died! The Greek for earthquake is the same seismic word we relate to the earth moving underneath us and around us. What would Earthquake Lady Lucy Jones say? What do we say when life becomes unsettled? When events unsettle us? What do we do?
Matthew 28:1"After the sabbath, as the first day of the week was dawning, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to see the tomb..."
Jesus' resurrection happens on the first day of the week, a first day that's also the eighth day. Resurrection on day 8 stretches a week beyond its conventional boundaries to make that eighth day the (surprise!) first day of a new creation. (No little kid would reply "eight!" when we ask how many days are in a week.) Although the NT doesn't mandate a particular day or hour for Christian worship, most churches hold their main services on Sundays, or on Saturdays the vigil of Sunday, because Jesus rose on the 8th day.
Two thousand years later, we still live in the eighth day theology of God's redemptive re-creation of all that's been broken, discarded, decayed—everything that's no longer alive. As we trust God's action of re-creating and redeeming, we live in hope-filled confidence the Holy Spirit will use us to help redeem and recreate.
To be resurrected? Persons, institutions, structures, organizations, ideas, nature, all need to be dead. Jesus shows us the new creation is not pristine. The risen Jesus Christ had scars and he didn't try to hide them. Isn't that incredibly comforting? Jesus had scars in his Eastered life. Isn't that another reason to trust God's apparently impossible future?
There's more to come! Easter dawn is only the beginning.
Easter is 50 Days
Even as we live every day with eighth day hope, excitement, and newness, before long we'll celebrate the 50th day of Easter that completes a week of weeks (7 weeks of 7 days) as the day of Pentecost. Commemorating the Spirit of Resurrection filling the world, Pentecost is the third of the church's great trinitarian festivals.
But two millennia have passed since Jesus' Resurrection and since that first Pentecost recorded in the Acts of the Apostles. We look around and see hatred, poverty, and injustice. We still experience disappointments, sickness, dying, and death. Grief. Tears. We go online or turn on the TV and COVID-19 hits us hard. We know agricultural seasons of fallowness, tilling, planting, growing, and harvest cycle continuously, yet our theology tells us Easter, the historical time and place event of Jesus Christ's resurrection – that eighth day that's also the first day of the new creation – marked the end of death and dying, theoretically concluded ongoing cycles of poverty, illness, injustice.
The angel at the tomb and Jesus both tell everyone not to be afraid. They don't command or demand; they reassure us.
There's more to come! Easter morning is only the beginning.
Jesus Goes Ahead of Us
7Then go quickly and tell his disciples, "He has been raised from the dead, and indeed he is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see him.' This is my message for you." ... 10Then Jesus said to them, "Do not be afraid; go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me."
Jesus will go ahead into places and situations before you do. Jesus will meet you when you get there? He'll already be there by the time you arrive. Going before us to prepare for our presence, our ministry there? Yes!
Jesus shows us the new creation is not pristine. The risen Christ had scars and he didn't try to hide them. How about us? Does a reclaimed riverside, neighborhood, or forest show evidence of its past? Yes, but...?
Matthew 28:7 Jesus went to Galilee before his disciples did—they would see him there because he previously had arrived.
Although we need to live – and work – without fear as God's hands, feet, voice, mind, imagination, and heart, we can trust God already has been at work in the world before God leads us to a particular situation—God has been to our future! Exactly as Jesus promises, God always goes before us before leading us there. God waits for us to get there. We call this the previousness of God, of Jesus, of the Holy Spirit: of the Triune God.
There's more to come! Easter evening is only the beginning.