Sunday, March 31, 2013

garden centre

Picture the scene: a garden; the dark of day; blazing angels on guard; God present, walking, but unseen; a woman (whose name has always been rebellion) in tears; disappointment tinges the air; fear - and a sense that nothing will ever be the same.

I'm painting a picture not of Mary Magdalene in John 20, but Eve in Genesis 3.

Salvation is about putting things right - things that have been wrong for a very long time. There was a garden that ended in tears; on Easter Day we find another that starts that way.

For here the great story changes. We still fail. We still lose. We still disappoint. But Jesus is triumphant. And so the shadow of the Great Garden is finally lifted, and the tombs that have kept humanity locked into a spiral of despair are finally opened.

He is not here! He is not in the past! He is risen!

And when the walking God speaks to the weeping woman this time, there is no shame. No recriminations, no further punishment. Now Mary (the name means 'rebellion') in loving obedience wipes away the memory of Eve and becomes the first witness to the new reality. Her words change the world.

To adapt some words I recently heard from Ben Witherington, Christ's history transforms our destiny. His resurrection reshapes our every day and brings God's reign and rule into play now. The things that have held us down are no longer ultimate. Christ is risen, and we are in Christ. So his story wins, not the things that used to make us less.

For we are raised with Christ - not simply in the glorious future of the Resurrection that will transform all things, but now. Today. As well. His love is beating sin and death and despair and all evil for us  - for you - today.

In Calverley Church this morning, I spoke of a time when my world seemed to fall apart. And yet Christ took hold of me and did not simply give me strength to endure and get through those days - at the end I was more than at the beginning. What I went on to do, I could not have done before. He raised me up.

We are not Christians in order to grit our teeth and get through life, but to hold the hand of the One who is the first fruits of the Resurrection. Holding that Risen hand, we find ourselves lifted up. Today, in a hundred small ways. Eventually, O eventually we too will rise gloriously, eternally, immortally.

He rose in a garden to release the chains that bind us. Salvation is about putting things right - things that have been wrong for a very long time. Resurrection is about allowing Christ's history to transform our destiny - making what is true work for real in our lives. Making it new. Working it out. Seeing it happen.

And it's about feeling the hand that touched Mary, touch our shoulders, and hearing the voice that called her name, call ours. Then we too get up, and run with obedience wherever he asks, with joy; because when the Risen Lord Jesus is around, everything changes.

No comments: