The party doesn’t have to stop. I know that all the rules say that eventually every party has an end – that if the party didn’t stop there would be no ‘baseline’, no way to distinguish between ‘party’ and ‘non-party’ days, regular and special. The whole metric would be shot.
Would we even like Fridays anymore?
First off, people will always like Fridays, because everyone knows that the sun always shines on Friday, and that the birds always sing on Friday, and The Cure has that really great song about being in love on Friday. No need to worry, Fridays are safe.
But back to the issue at hand, a party that doesn’t have to stop. I bring it up because Easter is one such party, yet the church pretty much packs up the celebration before it’s had a chance to break loose, well before anyone looses their inhibitions and begins to get new ideas about life.
This resurrection thing isn’t simply about not going to hell (and by-the-way, that’s pretty good, worth celebrating even) it’s about new creation! Resurrection is about how God has already begun to raise up, restore, and recreate all of creation, with the evidence being his son Jesus.
I owe a great deal of this understanding to N.T. Wright. If you haven’t read his book Surprised by Hope, do it! I wept all the way through!
Even the small details of the resurrection accounts point to the fact that something much larger than what most of us have ever considered is taking place. For instance, in John’s gospel, Mary goes to Jesus’ tomb and finds it empty, only to have the resurrected Jesus speak to her. John points out that Mary thought it was the gardener. This is not a throw away line! It is a prophetic echo of the very first garden where the first man, Adam, was placed to “garden”, thrive and live with God. Here, the ‘last Adam’ is gardening alright – he’s tending to ‘new creation’. In the first garden the woman was deceived. In the garden of new creation the woman, Mary, was the first to experience, firsthand, the revelation of the resurrected Jesus! More could be said, but for brevity’s sake we’ll stop there.
Now, we’re living in God’s new world where the party has only started. Jesus, as Paul points out, is the ‘first fruits’, a sure sign that the full crop is just ahead. We have reason to celebrate, and not just on Easter morning, but all year long!
I know the sophisticated may roll their eyes and think this is all just a bit naive, just a bit idealistic, just a bit sophomoric, but if Jesus is really alive (and I, for one, believe that he is) we have an unending reason to celebrate! As a pastor, I have often been puzzled by a church mentality that places so much emphasis on Easter Sunday, as a stand alone event, and then largely goes on as though nothing really happened, or is happening, or will surely happen!
My feeling is that it’s time to participate with new creation by celebrating all the more! Why spend 40 days on lent, and one piddly morning on Easter? Why not imagine and envision what some of the possibilities of new creation might be, and then, just go ahead and live in them. Let the yeast work it’s way through the dough. Why not have some people over for a really over-the-top dinner after Easter Sunday, and celebrate the dinner that we will one day share with Jesus himself at the marriage supper of the Lamb?
On the earth as in heaven!