We think about Easter every first day of the week since we celebrate the Lord’s presence among us in fellowship on the day He rose and initiated in a special way His new creation. But thoughts of resurrection can slip away for concentration on the everyday, the mundane, where God not only deigned to dwell but actually came to enjoy sharing life with us. The Easter season is designed to cultivate our resurrection thinking throughout the year. When God looks at us each day, He sees us through the lens of Christ’s resurrection. We should look at our lives the same way, for His rising from death has transformed us and the way we live.
An article on his address book by novelist Louis Bayard (AARP, The Magazine, August/September 2018) came to mind as Easter approached this year. He wrote that the little book, with names scribbled in and some crossed out with a change of place noted, is precious, among other reasons, because, “In this sea of strike-throughs, the only thing that halts my pen is death.” He mentioned three friends who live-on at their last place of earthly residence because they are there, in the pages of his book. He stated they are still there, truly, “Because everyone who as ever added to these heavily thumbed pages is still with me.” However, he felt compelled to add, “…on paper that is as perishable as we are.” Among many traditional religions which venerate ancestors, it is thought that the afterlife of every individual fades with the passing away of the generations who remember the person and, by recalling memories, can tell stories of him or her.
It is different with God’s address book. God never forgets any of the names He has written in the Book of Life (Philippians 4:3; Revelation 21:27). He will sooner or later strike through our last earthly address and replace it with the address: “At home with the resurrected Lord.” As we from time-to-time change earthly residences, we think nostalgically about the house we are leaving behind even before we leave the premises, but at that point we are already thinking our way into the next residence which will give us a place to enjoy life. This is even more true about living after Easter, in the anticipation of the rooms or mansions Jesus has prepared for us (John 14:2). As much as we enjoy the blessings of the abodes He provides for us here and now, we can already get some sense of the future habitation and its joys lying beyond our imagination.
The sense of moving up the living scale accompanies us day in and day out, during good times and bad. We view the whole of our existence from the vantage point of our earthly ways of delighting in the future God has in store with us that vastly exceeds our wildest dreams. “Hope springs eternal,” we say, but hope can also die when it is placed in mortal objects. Hope in the eternal God and the plans He drafted before the foundation of the world, in contrast, never dies since it springs from the promise of the Author of Life. He will hang-out with us to the end of this age (Matthew 28:20) and far beyond.
Hope in the eternal God and the plans He drafted before the foundation of the world never dies since it springs from the promise of the Author of Life.
The story of Jesus’ resurrection has seeped into the cracks of our lives with healing balm. It has infiltrated our thinking, invaded and claimed our space. It pierces our walls of defense and resistance against the breezes blowing from Heaven through His empty tomb into our daily thinking. For our risen Lord Jesus comes to give us Himself and His way of being human as our addresses, the places where people find us and thus find Him as well. Because we have confidence that an address beyond this life has already been reserved for us, we maintain our residences where we are now with some furnishings of that perfect future home. Here and now we are temples of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 3:16, 6:19; 2 Corinthians 6:16), and He who has been our dwelling place in all generations (Psalm 90:1) becomes the address by which people find Him as it labels our lives. Jesus Christ makes those who love Him into the home where He and His Father take up residence (John 14:23).
Our Lord’s resurrection has already refurbished the way of living we practice in the dwellings we occupy on this earth, our actual houses built of stone, brick, and wood. He has also renovated those homes we have distinct from the house with our nameplate on the door, homes in our living together with extended family. He also renovates those at the places of work we frequent week in and week out, with others who know our names in the variety of relationships, more and less personal, which we cultivate in our neighborhoods, communities, and nation; as well as those in our congregations and the larger church. Our presence makes those places where life takes place—this is how we label what is happening to us: events and interactions take place—into places also touched by our Lord’s resurrection. For we bring the presence of the One who has drowned that which interferes with a hope-filled life, a life driven by His love, and who has been raised to live in uprightness and purity into the spaces, the addresses, where He makes us “at home” in our families, our workplaces, our communities, and our congregations.
These earthly locations take on a different tone and hue through the presence of one who trusts the Lord is risen indeed. For we are confident that we, too, shall not only rise with Him but we also have, again each day, been raised to a new way of living. This way of life lead us, like Martha, to strive to be hospitable to those around us, and, like Mary, to love to be talking about and with the Risen One. For many of the habitations to which God has sent us in our circles of acquaintances are places where hope is not so plentiful and optimism is often hardly skin-deep. But to all those places where others know our names we bring the sound of the stone being rolled away, the sniff of air freshened by the fragrance of the Easter lily sprouting from Christ’s empty tomb, the song of rejoicing reveling in the fact that, “Christ is himself the joy of all, the sun that warms and lights us. Now His grace to us imparts eternal sunshine to our hearts, the night of sin is ended” (Lutheran Service Book, Hymn # 458, Christ Jesus Lay in Death’s Strong Bands, Stz. 6).
For we are confident that we, too, shall not only rise with Him but we also have, again each day, been raised to a new way of living.
Our confidence that Christ recorded our names in the Book of Life before the worlds began and wrote our lives into His resurrection informs our sense of who we are today and where we are located for this time in our earthly pilgrimage. As our Creator, He is present everywhere, and as our risen Savior He has lent us His presence as the address of those places where we are at home, where we and He can be found. There no thief can enter in (Luke 12:33), for the Lord’s resurrection has secured our addresses against the Devil’s attempts at arson, the world’s attempts to lure us away from being at home with our Lord, and our own sinful desires’ longing for the shacks and hovels of their false designs for a home. Having the crucified and risen Lord of life and death as our address gives us the perfect home insurance.