What a Difference a Week Makes

Jesus Christ is Risen Today!

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Children of the Resurrection, happy Easter! Happy Resurrection Day! We have been this way before, haven’t we? Last year we celebrated Easter, and the year before, and the year before and the year before, for as long as we’ve been alive. Every year, we are reminded through the flow of our liturgical calendar of the great sacrifice that paid the price for our sin once and for all. Every year, we take the time to remember the extent of God’s love for us – a love that promised us eternal life with the Triune God, rather than condemnation. As it is said in John 3:17 ‘Indeed, God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him’.

And now, we are here again, to be reminded of God’s love for us, of which God reminds us repeatedly.

That repetition is seen in today’s Gospel, the Gospel for Easter Day, Year A, Matthew 28:1-10:

And suddenly there was a great earthquake; for an angel of the Lord, descending from heaven, came and rolled back the stone and sat on it.

Matthew 28:2

We’ve been this way before, haven’t we? Just last week, we read of another earthquake. Last week, as we celebrated Palm Sunday (The Sunday of the Passion) we read:

At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. The earth shook, and the rocks were split. The tombs were opened, and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised.’

Matthew 27:51-52

The Impact of God’s Love

Seems like the people of Golgotha experienced quite a shake up (all pun intended) more than 2000 years ago when the earth shook, and rocked and reeled! And both events were related to God’s action in the lives of God’s people. Both events were linked to God’s saving grace, God’s saving action in our lives. Psalm 18 tells us:

In my distress I called upon the Lord; to my God I cried for help. From his temple he heard my voice, and my cry to him reached his ears.

Then the earth reeled and rocked; the foundations also of the mountains trembled and quaked, because he was angry.

Psalm 18:6-7

Seems like there’s always a shaking of the earth whenever God’s saving action interacts with our reality. Yet, what a difference a week has made to the meaning of the shaking. A couple of things have changed in this one week:

  1. Colour: liturgically, the colour changed from red on Palm Sunday to white (or black) on Maundy Thursday to black (or red) on Good Friday, then back to red on Holy Saturday. Now, we’re back to white (as of 6:00 p.m. on Holy Saturday). And even within there, the white of Maundy Thursday was of a sombre tone whereas the white of the Easter Vigil and Easter Day are celebratory and triumphant.
  2. Mood: Our mood has certainly changed. On Palm Sunday, we commemorated the celebration of Jesus Christ as the King of the Jews when he rode triumphantly into Jerusalem. By, Friday, we were flung into mourning when we remembered the darkness that fell upon the earth just before Jesus died. Matthew 27:45 tells us, ‘From noon on, darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon’. Now, instead of three hours of terrifying darkness, we have the fulfilment of a promise on the third day. As said in Isaiah 55, God’s Word accomplished that which He purposed and succeeded in the thing for which He had sent [Him]. Soon, it would be time for the Word to the return to the Father.

The Extent of God’s Love

Yet, for as much as our colours and mood have changed, there is one thing that has not changed, and that is God’s love for us. As John 15:13 tells us, ‘No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends’. God’s love was proven in no mean way when Christ chose to give His life for us. I thank God for the extent of love that He has showered upon me repeatedly. I’m sure, you too have your own heart-warming stories of God’s love for you and encourage you to share them in the comments. That enduring love means that God can change much in the space of one week.

Can you imagine the state of despair that had overtaken the disciples as they witnessed the trial and crucifixion of Jesus? The Gospel according to Luke in the account of the Walk to Emmaus (Luke 24:13-35) describes the disciples as ‘looking sad’. Their despair is irrepressible when they lament, ‘But we had hoped that he [Jesus Christ] was the one to redeem Israel.’ In one week, the disciples were taken on a roller-coaster ride of jubilation as Christ rode in triumphant to Jerusalem on the donkey, then overwhelming despair on Maundy Thursday into Holy Saturday. Then, on Sunday, they were confused, bewildered and somehow jubilant again as they came to understand that Jesus Christ was risen from the dead.

The Enduring Nature of God’s Love

In the space of one week, the disciples were that much closer to understanding the extent of the psalmist’s celebration in the today’s Response, Psalm 118 that God’s mercy endures forever. They understood that they would live and not die, and for that, they would declare the works of the Lord. The disciples, like the psalmist, would see that on this day, the Lord has acted and so, would rejoice in it. This after having been reprimanded by Jesus several times well for their slowness to believe or to understand. As he groaned in Matthew 17:17, ‘how much longer must I be with you’? I’m just thinking that Jesus, mindful of his mission, and noting the slowness of the disciples, might have been shuddering here at the thought that he needed to stay on earth longer than initially contracted with the Father.

And so it is too, with us. In our journey towards fulfilment, in our walk towards purpose, we face many moments when we wonder, ‘How much longer must I be in this place? How much longer must I put up with this?’ The simple response is ‘Only as long as the Father determines’, for there is much that can change in one week. But for as much as can change in one week, the love of God for you will not change and that love will pull you through whatever it is you might be enduring at present. There is nothing that the love of God cannot overcome, as shared with you last week. While you wait on your moment of completion, borrowing a verse from today’s Epistle (Colossians 3:1-4) I encourage you, as did the writer to the Church in Colossae, to set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.

Children of the Resurrection

Photo by Gerhard Lipold on Pexels.com

Friends, it’s Easter and we are called to clothe ourselves with the new self – the risen self, the resurrection self. That resurrection self believes that the love of God which endures can result in much changing in the space of one week. The resurrection self believes that God’s word of victory for us, a word founded on God’s enduring love, can result in much changing in one week…even in one day.

What are you hoping for? What have you been lifting your eyes to hills for on this journey of fulfilment? Believe today, the day of the Resurrection, that it has been raised from the dead and that God’s word for you will be fulfilled. Believe today that the very shaking of the earth that signalled the death of your circumstances will now signal the resurrection and the fulfilment of God’s word in your life. Like Jesus’ reassurance to the disciples in Matthew 28:10, I say to you, ‘Do not be afraid. Go and tell your brothers and sisters (in Christ) that they are about to see the power of the Resurrection in your life. Then they will see and believe that Jesus Christ is Lord!’

Beloveds of the Resurrection, take heart! Arise, shine; for your light has come and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you. (Isaiah 60:1).

Until next time, I bid you the love of the Father, the peace of the Son, and the joy of the Spirit! Amen!

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