But the first Easter breaking in on a Sunday morning meant even more than that to the early disciples.
For them “the first day of the week” would, of course, have been considered the first day of creation as Genesis told the ancient, mysterious tale. So, it came to be seen very early on that in the resurrection of Christ, God was not just performing some one-off wonder to bail out his Son Jesus.
In Christian spirituality and understanding, the resurrection of Jesus initiates a new creation, a renewal of all things. The basic sense of this is pretty easy to get the mind around.
On a first Sunday back before time, God initiated the creation of all things through his life-giving Word. On a second Sunday rooted in time, God initiated the renewal of all things through his resurrected Word made flesh and bone.
Even if the sense of that idea is actually pretty simple, its implications are enormous and complex.
Try to think about it through an image so common it has become a cliché. Imagine the resurrection of Jesus as the stone dropped into the center of a pond. The purpose for God tossing the stone into the water in the first place is for its ripples to touch and alter every part of the pond.
If you will allow me, God’s intent in “rolling away the stone” of Christ’s tomb “into the water” of our world is to shake up our whole pond, to shake the death out of it, and to shake new life into it.
All of it. This vision is wondrous. And enormous.
However, the part of all this I keep coming back to has to do with how small I often make Easter. For instance, I can make the resurrection of Jesus good but small by seeing it simply as a “thumbs-up” to Jesus and the individual, personal relationship with God he offers me.
But, Easter always means more than little old me and God getting along better, which is great but not the main thing God seems to be doing here.
Easter means that in Jesus’ resurrection, God is beginning the process of making all of creation better, and I am a beloved part of that wonderful, massive redemption.
There is a very popular Bible verse from Paul’s second letter to the churches of Corinth, Greece. We usually hear it as something like this: “If anyone is in Christ, that person is a new creation. The old has gone and the new has come.”
And that is awesome, but kind of small when I think about myself and the then I ponder the whole world (literally “the cosmos”) for which John 3:16 declares God’s love.
The preferable reading of that verse from 2nd Corinthians is likely something more along these lines: “If anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come. The old has gone and the new is here.”
It is subtle, but the sense is that all things are being made new by the Living Christ. Me – my sins being forgiven, my new start with God, my renewed purpose for living, etc. – all of this is part of a much bigger whole, a grander salvation that I get to be a part of. That’s the Good News.
God loves me, but also has bigger fish to fry. I (any of us really) get to be a part of “The New Creation.” And that New Creation includes transformation for people on the other side of the world, for the groaning earth itself, and even for galaxies across the oceans of time and space that I will never see.
I know that is pretty trippy, but if you get what I’m saying, even just a little, then tell me this…
What is one way you think you might have made Easter too small, too much about you and your faith and not about what God is doing in the larger world?
If God is beginning to make all things new in the resurrection of Jesus, what is one clear, concrete way that changes the way you think and act toward other people? Toward the world itself?