We are called out every bit as much as the Israelites were in the days of Pharaoh, called out of bondage to gods that are no gods, called out of the pagan city, into the worship of God. By the great grace of God Israel’s salvation has been made ours too, so that we too may worship the one God, Lord of all. So that we too may be God’s people, grafted in Christ Jesus into the chosen people. And that means being God’s people. It means leaving behind the old gods, discovering a new home.
If we would love God, if we would try to speak God’s love in this world as it is, the cross is the only way. It is the necessary shape of our lives…For all of us, this is a word of hope. The cross—wherever it meets you, is the good thing. Never forget that. The cross is the good thing.
“Present your bodies as living sacrifices”, St. Paul says today. Well, who does that? “Here’s my body, Lord, it’s yours.”
We can think of servants, of transplant donors, literally, of soldiers, of firemen and policemen, of parents in a way, of martyrs. But what of you and me?
Abraham’s faith is this: to hear the Word of God—“Abraham”—that utterly surprising word, our name, from the mouth of the immortal, invisible, God only wise; to hear this Word of God, his own name, and to say “Here I am.”
We are God’s children before everything else, God’s children from the first days of the universe, from the slow turning of the galaxies, from the ancient protozoa of the sea. We are God’s creatures, the children of God.
It’s a great gift to give your children, this knowledge that God is our Father. Because it opens up a world full of wonder: this beauty of the earth, sky and rock and northern lake, is not at all impersonal. It is an act of God’s love, all of it.
Jesus sends us out. We have work to do that he gives us, work in our lives, in our contexts, in our world. It’s standard to say this, of course. But it’s hard, in practice, to figure it out: we are not apostles, after all, going about from town to town preaching. We have families, jobs, projects, concerns, health issues, worries. “Every one has a ministry” sounds good; but why would that actually be the case, given all we have to do just to be normal people? More than that, the very notion of a “Christian” ministry doesn’t fit the vastness of our, to be honest, non-Christian lives, with all their compelling demands. It’s not surprising the Christian ministry tends to be specialized, taken up by a few who have both the time, focus, and peculiar (perhaps even somewhat aberrant) passions for preaching, teaching, talking about Jesus, worrying about religious practices and beliefs. Yet, we are told rightly by Scripture and Church: you have a ministry.
There is no place the little bunny can go that is too far away from his mother’s love. She is with him—her heart is with him—always, no matter where he goes. She waits for him, she seeks him, she holds out her arms to him when finally he comes home.
And this is like the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Out of the depths Jesus speaks, and his word is hope. For it is the crucified one who is risen. Christ is raised with nail-marks in his hands: this is the promise. We do not have a Saviour who does not know our weakness, the sin that clings so close, but one who in every way is like us, only without sin (Hebrews says.) One who is like us, and not only like us but with us, who bears the nail-marks—this evil that we do—in his hands.
Two disciples walking today toward Emmaeus on that first Sunday after Jesus was crucified. They had hoped: they walk on this first Sunday of Easter in the grief of hope lost. They are heading home, away from Jerusalem, away from kingdom hope. They do not see hope because they cannot: there is in the world no way out. And then, Jesus speaks. Here, Jesus speaks, on this road away from Jerusalem and hope. Take heart. Be of good cheer. I have conquered the world.
The first Easter day begins in darkness and in the shadow of death.The first response to the empty tomb was not joy, but grief and confusion. “My Lord is gone; I do not know where,” Mary says. She runs to the disciples; they run to the tomb; they run back to the other disciples; Mary comes back to the tomb and lingers there in distress. Chaos and confusion and distress at dawn on the first Easter Day. And this is curious.