Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Looking beyond Good Friday

Looking beyond Good Friday, at the end of this season of Lent, requires more than worldly eyes. The historians of the Jesus Seminar, when they voted on the actions of Jesus, culminating in the events of Holy Week, could go no further than his death. He was crucified under Pontius Pilate.

Then what happened? What happened after he died? What happens after you die?

The answers are married, so closely are they related. Jesus became the first-born from the dead, the first one to experience resurrection. Looking at him, and at his appearances to the disciples, to Mary of Magdala and Joanna and to Peter and John and to many others, we see what resurrection life looks like. We know that he was raised, and we know that he continues to lead us, both in this life and beyond, as we approach the throne of God.

The events of Holy Week, and the actions of Jesus, beginning with Palm Sunday's ironic procession - holding up a mirror to the false pretensions of worldly glory of the powers of Empire, confronting entrenched interests even in the precincts of the Temple, holding the Passover meal with his friends, facing a jury-rigged midnight tribunal, and accepting the death of a common criminal, then passing through the tomb: these events, leading up to Easter, emerge in their full significance only when we look beyond the Tomb, to the first day of the week, when the women carrying spices and ointments went to pay their last respects to their dear Friend. There, where they looked for death, they found life: he is not here; he is risen!

As I write this we are still in the season of penitence and preparation, of Lent, and, with intervening celebrations, it is during this season that you will receive this newsletter. We will, on occasion, look back on events of Jesus' life - the wedding feast at Cana, notably - that foreshadow the joy of Easter, the hope of glory, and the love manifest in the Spirit.

In the meantime, however, we will prepare: we will look, at ourselves, our community, our nation and our world, and we will see there the need for God, the need for his presence among his people, the need for his voice and his hands to show his love to the world. We will see the need for his church to become ever more fully the people of God. And, even as we anticipate that last bite of darkness at the end of winter - Good Friday's solemn black - we will know that beyond it comes the dawning of the new day, the Lord's Day.

See you there.

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