Sunday, April 15, 2012

On the first day of a renewed creation

The happy endings we seek in life so often go AWOL. The career prospects. The dream of a relationship. Or, as I witnessed a few months ago, my parents plans for retirement thrown up in the air by a health scare for my Dad. He's had surgery and seems well, but in the week between Christmas and New Year everything was unknown. The future looked insecure. What were we to think then?

To get a happy ending, you need the right hero - and you need what only he can do.

Isaiah tells the story (25:7-8).

Death is the greatest enemy. It makes every story tragic in the end. We say someone died before their time, but every death is too soon. We say, they died well, but death always steals people away.

And with and on top of death come sorrow and shame. Ruining our stories.

The LORD of Hosts calls for a wedding feast but we can't get ourselves there.

He has to open the door. And he did. He walked into his world (as a child, born from a virgin's womb). Lived spotlessly. Lived lovingly, excessively. Lived beautifully. Lived life-givingly.

And he looked death in the eye, and beckoned it to come. He gave himself to death. Life to everyone else - death to himself. Death got its grubby hands all over him. It covered his face. It dragged him down to the grave. The LORD of Hosts, commmander of heaven's armies, taken down. He died.

And the first day ended. The story looked more tragic than it'd ever looked before. Death had won?

The second day passed.

And then on the morning of the third day, death lost its grip. Death lost its victory. Death was swallowed up in victory forever. The seed that had fallen to the ground burst into life. The king triumphed and swallowed up death.

Exactly as should have been expected. His love is strong as death. His jealousy is fierce as the grave. No wonder death could not hold him.

He ate death up for breakfast, and went to eat fish with his friends.

The first day of a new week, the first day of a recreated world.

A personal foretaste of a deathless future. The happy ending that we long for. The mega story.

And as he eats up death he comes to weep with us and wipe away our tears.
And as he eats up death he comes to clothe us as we hide in shame.
The very things that we use to exclude and alienate ourselves, he takes upon himself.

As a writer said, everything sad is coming untrue.

Its not that all tragedies are undone, but that their sting is taken. He died to take the sting we deserved. He died in our place. The man of sorrows was publicly shamed. And those who look to him are joined to him in his death - put to death with him, sorrowful and shamed with him.

His resurrection will then become ours. As sure as he rose, so we will rise.

Though we will die, though we weep, though we struggle and strive, our hope isn't just for this life. Our heaven is not for the hyphen between our birth and death to be a series of comic stories. This world is cursed and we know it. This world is marked by emptiness and frustrations and we know it.

We need the LORD of Hosts who welcomes all nations, all peoples, all faces to his wedding. Not the good and the great but the last, least, lost and little.

Not as the awkward ex-girlfriend, but on the strength of his death and resurrection, to be his bride.
As I waver and stumble, as I wrestle with my CV and my story, with what's behind and ahead, I'm invited to look to him.

When, as is so often the case, my best answer for "what will happen?" is "I don't know", I'm invited to look to him - to build on what I do know. To build on who I know. And the LORD of Hosts welcomes me, and you. If we dare entrust ourselves to the one who cares for us so deeply, what will we find?

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