Friends, something happened that first Easter morning. You can tell. The way John tells it and how the first believers lived it. Something actually happened in human history that was not just a great idea, a new invention, a stunning stunt or a perfect moral lesson, or even that Jesus just found another route for us all to ‘go to heaven when we die”. No, something happened that transformed heaven and earth for living.
Here’s what happened. The one and only true and living God fulfilled every one of his long-made promises to accomplish the searching, finding, saving, loving work to bring his new creation into existence forever. Easter is all of that happening. Easter Day is the moment it all began – the day the world began, the day that death died, the day I began that tells me I will never end.
But what difference Easter Day really make for you? What difference does it make for the world?
For many, it does not mean much at all and so makes little difference to their lives. For some it is the beginning of their life and the whole world’s hope all over again. Quite a contrast!
Friends, the new life of God is here now and to be lived now. That would be the Bible’s short simple and profound message to you today. The new creation of God is here in Jesus, and it is here now, and we are living in God’s new life in the middle of the old. Heaven and earth overlap in our day, every day. Easter Day was that big moment of change, of new creation for all of creation.
So much more than only the forgiveness of my personal sins or a ticket to some distant heaven when I die, although both are beautiful gifts included.
John is doing everything he can to show you something happened, and it was cosmic in scale but so very, very ‘us’, so very human too.
His telling of that first Easter morning is filled with flesh and blood and dawn darkness and tears of grief and the joy. Of human bodies running, excited, puzzled, new light, new hope rising, new life promised before the day now in the day and maybe for everyday from here.
- Mary Magdalene went to the tomb and saw…
- So she came running to Simon Peter
- Peter and the other disciple started for the tomb. 4 Both were running
- the strips of linen lying there, 7 as well as the cloth that had been wrapped round Jesus’ head. The cloth was still lying in its place, separate from the linen.
- Mary stood outside the tomb crying..
- Jesus said to her, ‘Mary.’
- Jesus said, ‘Do not hold on to me,
- ‘I have seen the Lord!’
Human crying, grieving, longing, touch, seeing…… All on firm ground; planet earth. Our home, our ground. This cosmic event that brought a whole new creation to the world happened in the world – our world which sows this is God’s world.
I came across a hymn written in 1909. It speaks about this earth being God’s earth still, or even especially now after this new day of new life.
This is my Father’s world; O let me never forget
That though the wrong seems often so strong
God is the ruler yet.
This is my Father’s world; the battle is not done.
Jesus, who died, shall be satisfied,
And earth and heaven be one.
“Earth and heaven be one”. God and his world and his creatures in sync in your day, all day. That is the Easter joy. That is the resounding bell ring this Easter morn. Heaven and earth are now one in this Jesus. By his sheer gift, you get to truly live now. You get to live new. You get to live in his new heaven and earth by the gift of baptism where we die and rise with Jesus everyday – now idling, one day full throttle.
What does it mean? Now you don’t need to live hoping you make it or give up on making it or try to make it all happen yourself. Now you live with hi making the most of you because he is present with you on your ground, in your places. He is risen.
Now this world though broken, suffering and dying, has a future. It will be renewed. It will be transformed, resurrected, made new, bit-by-bit and fully at the last. It is now worth working in this world. It is now worth living in this universe. He is risen.
Being an Easter person is not just trying to find the secrets to a good life or learning God’s heavenly mysteries apart from our earthly experience or trying to get out of this place to some other planet or heavenly space.
Living Easter is listening, learning, glimpsing and loving the moments when God is continuing to renew me, re-make me, teach me, show me, overwhelm me with his love and inspire me with his grand plan to bring many of the people with whom I live and work to Jesus’ new life – on this ground.
We live in both as God’s loved, resurrected baptised people. We live in heaven and earth and both are being made new in God’s long-term project as he draws all people to this King of kings who has been lifted up for the world to see on his throne of the cross.
This Easter Day had its effect on Mary and John and Pet and the others and thousands afterwards. It has its effect on Paul. It is meant to affect you! Will you allow it to do that?
Friends, Easter Day declares to you that God is re-creating you and everything you know and are. That is the ongoing shape of the Christian life.
We are not ‘working for the weekend’, we are fulfilling our calling in our work. We are not doing as we please because we will go to heaven when I die’, we are living in God’s new heaven and new earth now and will do so in Jesus when the project is fully and finally complete.
God intends to continue to remake you and remake his earth and his heaven. Easter Day declares his intentions. Your body matters. This planet matters. All creatures matter. This earth and God’s heaven are our future as John would later envision for us in the Revelation – a new city, a new earth and a new heaven becoming of the old one at the final day of resurrection for all the living and dead. (Revelation 20-21)
As it was for Peter and the others in all their weakness, lack of understanding and betrayal, forgiveness is now the kingdom’s highest value. The forgiveness of any sinner for any sin is now the glory in which we bask with him.
Friends, something is happening again today. God’s news f new creation, new hope, new future, new calling, new life are upon us.
Run. Weep. See. Hear. Tell.
“You have seen the Lord”. Tell them all what he says.
“By the grace of God we are what we are”.
He is risen!