Celebrating Now & Then
This is the day. This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it! This day is Easter Sunday. Today, right now April 12th, 2020 is the official day of Easter for the western church.
But it sure does not look like Easter. It doesn’t feel like Easter. Where are the trumpets and the flowers? Where is the great gathering of God’s people to sing Alleluia to the risen Christ?
The gathering of Christians is suspended right now, so we have none of those things. The gathering of every group is suspended. We are all suspended…and waiting.
Christians are used to waiting, in a way. We are waiting for Jesus to return and fully manifest the kingdom of God, even though Jesus has already come. Sometimes we even say this as part of our liturgy. We say, “Christ has died, Christ is risen, Christ will come again!”
We live in this same sort of ‘already and not yet’ in our baptism. When you are baptized your sins are forgiven, you are washed clean and you are born again from above, but at the same time your old sinful life continues here below. Your salvation is finished in Jesus, but we await that day when our baptism is complete.
This year, on this Easter, we are living out the ‘already and not yet’ nature of the Christian life. It is Easter, right now, today, but the grand celebration is not yet. We anticipate, we look forward to the celebration that is to come. We look forward to that day when we can gather as a congregation, sing the songs of resurrection, with the flowers and the trumpets and all the fanfare.
But right now…we wait.
This Easter, we will all gather in small groups, with our families and in our homes. We will be many small congregations, each celebrating Jesus. Someday, we will bring together all of our households, all of these small congregations, and worship as one big congregation
The same is true on a much bigger scale for our congregation and the entire Christian Church. We usually gather here at 12th and Jackson Street, and even if we had a huge congregation and packed the building for every service, it would only be a small group compared to that final unified congregation of all Christians from all times and all places who are there face to face with God in Jesus singing heavenly songs of praise.
We are always looking forward to that day when our lives will be revealed with Jesus in his glory. Our entire lives on this earth are lived saying, “Soon and very soon we are going to see the King.” But right now,…we wait.
So, the Bible tells us to look up, set your mind on the things above.
Right now we are living through extraordinary times. It looks like the church has had to stop. We see hardship and suffering around us. And we must take these events very seriously. But we must not be consumed by them. We must set our mind on things that are above.
And when we set our minds on things that are above, it changes the way we live here down below. Christian waiting is not passive waiting. It is active. So even right now, we wait for the day when we can gather again as a congregation, but we are active, praying, worshiping, and serving others.
Set your mind on things that are above. Carry out acts of devotion in your home. Put up a cross on Good Friday, sing Alleluia on Easter Sunday, reach out to your neighbors, give to those in need. These acts of worship and devotion are the natural inspiration of the things from above.
This is the day. This is the day that the Lord has made. Looking forward to what is to come, let us right here and now rejoice and be glad in it.