Why do you look for the living among the dead?
He is not here, but has arisen!
Where is Jesus now?
Around 13 million visitors a year flock to Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris. And that number has been growing in recent years, and will likely continue to grow now. After the fire there this past week, so many worldwide grieved at the seeming passing of this iconic and historical site.
Over a billion people in the last century alone have made a physical contact with that one particular site on the banks of the Seine River in France. Think of it. A significant portion of the world’s human population in modern history.
We are a people attached to certain places. And, then, we associate our identity, our families, our faith, our memories with those places—becoming attached to them. Losing them is akin to losing the meaning associated with that place. Losing them is losing ourselves.
Where is Jesus now? Where do we look for Christ today? In one place, only?
In the ashes of a burned-out sanctuary? At the homestead farm long ago abandoned? At the graveside tomb of a loved one? Only at the seaside, or only in gardens of splendour and glory? In the pages of the bible alone?
Can we even pin it down to one place, now? Can we experience Jesus only under certain conditions, when and where the stars are aligned in perfect order, where we feel God? And only there and then?
It was hard to believe that I would ever get the manger scene—our front-yard Christmas tableau—freed from the frozen ice last January. I joked that Jesus was snowed in with us. It felt like forever. And that it would probably be Easter by the time I would be able to free baby Jesus from the bonds of his snowy tomb.
Well, finally this past week, it was done! Baby Jesus’ resting place for the past half year now shows signs of new life in the ground even as the snow recedes.
Jesus is no longer bound to a certain place and time in history. Easter has unfurled Christ to the whole world. The power of God’s love has unbound Jesus from a particular point in history and place; and, released the power of that love for all people, in every time and every place.
And, for all of creation.
Christmas and Easter are thus connected through the incarnation, the indwelling, the integration of the divine and material. While Christmas injected the divine into the DNA of humanity, announcing: “God is with us!”; Easter proclaims the universal imprint of God’s purpose through the Spirit of the living Jesus everywhere and in all things! Now, “God is for us!” Easter drives home and expands Christmas’ initial point.
Jesus isn’t in one place: 1stcentury Bethlehem, Nazareth, Galilee, Jerusalem, Golgotha. Jesus is in every place, in all times: 2019 Canada. 1789 France. 1519 Wittenberg. 1348 Spain. 1215 England. 476 Rome. And that’s just looking backward … The future, too!
When French president Macron addressed the nation following the burning of Notre Dame, he talked about how the cathedral survived two world wars, about how the cathedral was looted and badly damaged in the French Revolution. And how it always survives. And how it will survive again, and be reconstructed.
Even through suffering, loss and death, the Spirit of hope, love and generosity prevails—throughout history! And sometimes unexpectedly. The love and life will come as a surprise. That is the nature of life.
In the winters of our lives, life will lie hidden and buried under banks of snow and ice. But under and in and within, life is literally waiting to erupt at just the right time, at just the right moment. Now it does. Because that is God’s desire for creation. Life and love.
That is God’s desire for Jacqueline who is this day baptized. That is God’s desire for each one of us. That is God’s desire, now, for everyone. The Easter message encourages each of us to release the loving Christ living in our hearts. The Easter message challenges us to act in ways that show that we aren’t saved until the whole world is saved. Because the wind of Christ’s presence now blows across the whole earth and over every creature, rock, tree and wave without inhibition, without boundary, without limitation. For all.
Today, Jesus is freed from the chains of death. Jesus is alive! Alleluia!