Leapt into New Life

The backyard is a riot of green this week. So much so, that the library is green because of the light scattered through the leaves into the windows. I forget how green it can get while the leaves are waiting to unfurl. I forget how verdant spring can be when we are still in the barren limb days of winter.

Finally the earth has leapt into the days of new life. Finally the daylight lasts until well after dinner so that we can venture out in the cool of the evening. Finally we can celebrate.

Finally we are on the celebration side of Easter. We journeyed through a long and dark Lent and the sadness of Holy Week; now finally we have fifty days of Easter celebration. But we don’t have the end of the story. There are yet more stories to tell of the birth of the church, the power of the Holy Spirit, and the expanse of the Gospel. It’s a story we tell with our lives.

We tell the story of the Easter season with our joys and with our hardships. I’ve got friends whose daughter had open heart surgery yesterday. Their story is part of the Easter story. Another friend has an infant son with a diagnosis that no child has yet survived. Their story is part of the Easter story as they walk in the presence of God through the valley. I’ve got other friends dealing with bad news and hard days. The promise of the power that God used in raising Jesus from the dead on Easter is where we find our promise, for our days.

Even if things don’t turn out the way we hope, we still trust in the promise; we still participate in a beautiful story, we still venture into a new life together.

Looking Forward to Celebrations

My anniversary is coming up. My husband and I have been married three years come next Thursday, and we tend to have a hard time remembering the date we got married. Last year, one of his church members congratulated us on our big celebration coming up that week… and we couldn’t remember what it was.

I mean, we don’t forget that we are married, we just kinda forget the date we got married. There was some calendar shifting back when we were setting the date and so the best reminder that we have is the collection of photographs that my cousin Julie made us of found numbers which display our wedding date. It was a good wedding, don’t get me wrong. I was honored that so many people decided to change their plans in their lives so they could celebrate the beginning of our lives together. But there were so many other things going on at the same time that month and a half that I’m pretty glad that we remember we got married in May.

There are other dates on our calendar of memories, like our first kiss, that have a bit more of a distinction because of the utter shift in our relationship a that point. When we got married, it was more on a continuum of our relationship and a gathering of our family and a celebration in the context of a worship service. It was a holy moment of pause in our lives, marking a change in our lives. We were able to celebrate and demonstrate our love for each other, entering into a new covenant relationship together in the presence of God and the gathered community.

But see, that’s the thing. We do that nearly ever week. Granted, our gathered community is sometimes different, we don’t form a new covenant each week, and we don’t always get to gather together (nearly) everyone who has meant something to us in our lives up to that point. But when we gather for worship, the most important thing is not our romantic love for each other, but the love that God has for all of us.

The love between me and my husband is strong, tender, affirming, and intimate. The love that we build within our community should have the same kind of strength. I’m not expecting anyone to snuggle with me, but as a community we should share the same kind of love that flows from God, a love that is even better than that between a happily married couple.

I deeply love my husband. I can’t wait to see him again after I’ve gone to see friends for a overnight trip or even if we’ve spent the day apart. I love him more intimately than anyone else in the world. Already in the three short years that we have spent together he has seen me and stuck with me at my utter worst and at my very best.

But God’s love is bigger than ours. Maybe that’s why I have a hard time remembering the date of the celebration coming up next Thursday, but don’t have trouble remembering the coming Sunday’s celebration.

Photo Credit: Amy Hoffman
Photo Credit: Amy Hoffman

It Will Be

Revel. Celebrate. Rejoice.

The street filled with shouts of celebration. Triumph was theirs. Rejoicing was heard for miles around as fireworks and bottle rockets exploded in the air. Some, still not certain, jumped at the noise, but their hearts were warmed by the singing of the anthem. Happiness abounded. Deep sorrows were laid to rest, and tears were dried. Finally, ultimately, at last, here was something to celebrate. It had been so long since they could sing with this kind of freedom.

Victory.

At last. Victory.

This time, this victory was not to be short-lived. No, this victory will last. It is the final victory. And this is the final song of triumph. And so we reveled in the streets. Friends and strangers alike danced together. The music was full of life and love. The steps were simple, and the melody familiar to everyone, even though they had never heard it before.

All languages were again understood by all. A table meant a table meant a table spread for all to have plenty to eat. No one would ever go hungry again. Deep wells that had gone dry and turned to pits were now springing out clean, fresh, clear water. The granaries would never be emptied. The stores would never run out.

And at last, the story would be told. The story, the ancient story, took on new life for all those who heard it. The story was no different, the ancient tale was unchanged, but all who heard it listened with new ears. The original meaning had finally been realized. The ancient truth became true for everyone who heard it told.

The children were all to grow old together, and the families became one family. This one family, the original hope of the creator, had finally joined together once more.

Hope had finally been made the full reality. Joy was finally on the faces of all. Pure love was celebrated in the most ancient way, without shame or consequence.

And everyone was finally home, where they belonged. Even those who had never before had a place to call their own, even those who had wandered their entire lives, were finally able to rest. There was no more wondering where the next night would be spent, whether there was going to be adequate shelter, or at least a level place to lie down.

Now the banquet was prepared, the dance was beginning, and the time to Revel had just begun. Because the victory was finally complete. Sighing was no more. Joy filled the place, and all of the dangers were now merely fascinating. Everyone reveled in the life that they had been given. Everyone recognized each other, even though they had all been transformed. New life was here. Now. And the celebration had just begun, for Grace had just gotten started.

Celebrate. Rejoice. Revel.