*Okay, so I haven’t posted in a bit. I’ve been working on some projects and reading.*

I recently posted this comment on my Facebook profile:

Easter fundamentally changes everything about everything. Yet some things still seem to remain the same because some changes are hidden; others seem to emerge over time; yet still others are only briefly glimpsed. Reality was reframed. Now we wait and hope.

Someone asked me what the heck I was talking about. As much as that post seems cryptic, there is a simplicity and familiarity to it – so I’ll flesh it out.

The event of Easter, the Resurrection of our Lord, changes everything. I’ve said this many times over the past few years in public. The Resurrection is the event around which history pivots. It redefines how we should interpret reality (that’s what I meant by “reframing” reality). How? It really comes back around to 1 Corinthians 15, where Paul discusses the fact that if Christ has not been raised from the dead, then our faith is in vain. In other words, the very meaning of our lives is wrapped up in the event of the resurrection. Our identity as Christians finds its defintion in that moment. That’s why baptism is a killing and making alive, a drowning of the old man and a resurrection of the new man – our FIRST resurrection. Now our lives can be said to live for Christ, for the glory of God, and for the love of neighbor. Without the resurrection, this would be meaningless. In fact, without the resurrection, Christianity would never would have emerged. In a crude way of speaking, we’d be left with the other dominant worldviews of our time by which to find the meaning of our lives – those could be religious, like Judaism or Islam, or not, like naturalistic evolution (which ironically is a view that gives no meaingfulness to life at all, since it tells us our existence is  merely a cosmic accident, merely a matter of chance). Because of the resurrection, we find meaning in our lives because we are created by God Himself, and therefore, we can look to Him, the same one whom Christ looked to, for our meaning and purpose.

So what about the hidden things, the changes that we can’t see, or that emerge, or that we occasionally get a glimpse of? Here I mean that even though Christ has come, conquered death in the resurrection, we still live in a “now and not yet” dynamic state. Christ said that in Him, the Kingdom of God is at hand. Yet, at the same time, the Kingdom of God will not be fully manifest until He returns to establish the New Heaven and New Earth. So, while everything has changed, our experience makes us feel as if very little has changed. There is still pain, suffering, aimlessness, confusion, lack of understanding. These new realities of the Kingdom of God that are “at hand” are still hidden from before our eyes.

Yet, some emerge. Take for example the transformation we see at times in our own lives. We experience the forgiveness of God, the occasional selfless compulsion to care for our neighbors, and (hopefully!) overall a much greater awareness of others and their needs. And we do our best, through the grace of God, to care for them. We are able to see a greater sense of inner peace take the place of where some of our old worries and fears existed. We also see our own worldviews changed, admiring creation as truly a gift, even realizing our own next breath and next heartbeat are gifts from God. But again, there is still a hiddenness. We fall back into our sinfulness, our self-centeredness. We forget about others, and we fail in our trust of God. The changes that emerge in us which result in more Christ-likeness – they really are changes that emerge (they are not moments which suddenly appear as permanent, static differences in who we are), and sometimes they can fade away (like when we realize in some moment of clarity and honesty which the Spirit gives, we’ve fallen back into utter selfishness when before we felt as if God was really working through us to serve others).

We glimpse the present Kingdom of God in other ways too. The Church itself is supposed to be a sign of the Age to Come. Indeed, the Church is a human organization, fraught with all the problems involved with a bunch of self-centered humans trying to get along with each other, each having a personal vision for how that should play out. Yet, even in the Church, there are moments when we might think that we’re seeing what life in the New Heaven and New Earth may look like. Worship is one of those times. Communion can be another, but only when the body of Christ (the people, that is) are communing with each other in the knowledge of unconditional love and forgiveness as definitive of their community. In other words, Communion is often treated in very individualistic ways, being focused primarily on the participants maintaining “right belief” about what is happening (that they’re receiving the Real body and blood of Christ, that Jesus is Really Present in a special way that we can’t quite articulate but which we nevertheless believe, instead of just “pretending” He’s there or instead of the elements only “symbolizing” something). This treatment of the Sacrament really misses the point. The gifts of faith and forgiveness given in the Supper aren’t just meant for this individual approach – as if it’s only between “God and me”. Communion is communal, that is, between God and His people, including in the local celebration of the Supper, everyone in the room. Coming to the Lord’s Table is meant to happen in the knowledge that I am in a state of reconciliation with everyone in the room, that they hold nothing against me or I against them. The “passing of the peace” is meant to be a time for people to deal with these “issues” before communing. However, a majority of churches pass the peace at the beginning of worship, rather than just before Communion. Yet, even in churches that have this liturgical moment during the Communion liturgy itself, rarely is it treated or even acknowledged as a moment to reconcile oneself to everyone/anyone else. So a certain power and experience is lost in this event because of what we’ve made it (Communion as individualistic and about “right belief” – the standard for the experience “working” the right way, that is, receiving forgiveness, rather than eating/drinking to personal detriment), and the elements of Communion we’ve decided to emphasize. If we imagine the Kingdom of God as it will be manifest in the New Heaven and New Earth, interpersonal and communal reconciliation will be definitive of life. In the Church on Earth, we can get glimpses of this anticipated life when Communion is celebrated in all its fullness.

All this because the Easter event has changed everything. So with all of our glimpses, with all of the real changes we do see, we still wait and hope for it all to be fully revealed when Christ comes again.

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