What a God we have! And how fortunate we are to have him, this Father of our Master Jesus! Because Jesus was raised from the dead, we’ve been given a brand-new life and have everything to live for, including a future in heaven – and the future starts now! God is keeping careful watch over us and the future. The Day is coming when you’ll have it all – life healed and whole. - 1 Peter 1:3-5 (The Message)
I love these words from Eugene Peterson’s paraphrase of 1 Peter because of their eternal resonance. I love them because they cause me to pause and reflect on the ever increasing value of the gift offered at the cross and the never ending power of the Resurrection story. Today, Easter Sunday, we celebrate when light broke the darkness and the grave lost its grip on humanity because a Jewish carpenter killed death. We remember on this day that God showed himself to be the perfect collision of justice and mercy, of righteousness and grace. We run to the empty tomb and remember that it is indeed still empty. We are reminded that it is not only void of a body but also void of any power over us.
This morning, my wife and I enjoyed our first cups of coffee in six and a half weeks. In giving up coffee for Lent and then celebrating the Resurrection by treating ourselves to the best coffee in town, we put ourselves in a position to taste anew the goodness that is coffee. Coffee is always good but never has it been quite as good as it was this morning. As we both received our long awaited treasures from our barista, neither of us spoke. We simply drank. We drank in the goodness and felt the rush of caffeine course through our bodies, jolting us to life and invigorating us with vitality and warmth. I know this description seems incredibly dramatic but it’s no exaggeration. It was euphoric. This is why we fast during Lent. We fast because, as we arrive at Easter morning, it reminds us that the Resurrection gave us the greatest gift ever and its goodness must never be forgotten. We fast because it reorients our hearts to experience anew the goodness and delight afresh in the grace of the gift of new life. We fast because it enlightens us to our deep hunger and thirst for this new life here and now, in our every day moments, and not just packed away somewhere, to be redeemed upon death. On Easter Sunday, we awake to the reminder that eternity invades our present.
As Peterson puts it, the future starts now! In the resurrection, as light conquers darkness, time and space bend inward so that what is to come is in fact here already. Heaven caves in on the earth, the temple curtain rips in two, the glory of God floods the world, and the new washes over the old. This is the promise and power of Easter. It is the promise of new birth into eternity and it is the power of heaven conquering the fragile realities of our earthly existence so that we no longer have to live in fear, enslaved to the temporary circumstances of our human conditions. Instead, we can live in the freedom of heaven itself. We can enjoy and embrace the present, knowing that our stories will run right through the grave and on into forever. This makes for a truly Happy Easter. So grab a great cup of coffee, remember the gift you’ve been given, and enjoy every moment, because, in the words of Frederick Buechner, “all moments are key moments, and life itself is grace.”