Saturday, June 11, 2016

Till that day

The world keeps evolving. The natural world, yes, but even more so, and more importantly for us, the human world. That means politics, and society, and yes, even religion. All religions want us to believe that they are changeless, have possession of eternal values, but yes, they do change, and they must, if they are to survive.

But what of the Message? Well, if you mean the good news, the Gospel, of course, that doesn’t change, ever. It has a definite value and meaning. It is a concrete event in space and time that has affected and continues to affect everyone and everything it comes in contact with. Though religions have been erected around it, it doesn’t need them.

Well, that isn’t exactly true. Religion is what happens when the Message is impressed into human society. It forfeits part of its glory and its power, in exchange for leaving its footprints in culture. The sad thing is, that the footprints it leaves become an object of worship for the masses, and only for a few become the path of salvation.

Because you have to fit your feet into the footprints, and keep walking in them till they end. What you do when you reach the end is something unknown and unknowable till you get there. But that is not what I want to talk about, which is change. Though the Message doesn’t change, we do. We have to change in order to keep up with it.

Keep up with the Message? How is that possible, if it doesn’t change? Well, I said it doesn’t change, but it keeps running, running ahead of us. That metaphor about running the race that we read in Paul’s epistles is more than symbolic, even more than literal. It can only be grasped when we have committed ourselves to that divine marathon.

Religions create cultures of remembrance. This isn’t bad in itself. We need to remember, because we are who we were and who we will always be, patterned after the great ‘I am’ who says the same of Himself, ‘who is, who was, who is to come.’ But cultures of remembrance maintain and continue in the tradition of what transcends them.

What is that? We’re back to the Message again, that unchangeable good news which nevertheless keeps running ahead of us, which needs to be chased and, if possible, caught, or at least caught up with. What can it mean to be caught up with the Message? Can we ever catch up with Him who was dead, who rose from the dead, and who is alive forever?

Nothing is more certain! Nothing is more unchanging than the fact of the Resurrection. If nothing else were accepted of Christian doctrines, this fact alone, if ‘caught up with’ would utterly transform, not only the individual, but once the fire escaped the kindling, the whole world. Beyond religion, which would pale into insignificance, is the culture of resurrection.

And this is what we have to deal with. ‘Christ is risen from the dead, by death trampling down death, and to those in the tombs, bestowing life.’ All in the present tense, always happening, all around us, happening for all without exception, all the time, yesterday, today and forever, emptying the tombs even of the dead who have not yet been born.

Can we wait? Why do we wait? ‘Christ is in our midst,’ we say, and ‘He is and ever shall be,’ we respond, and then return to our humble state, glad we haven’t been called to martyrdom, glorying in our self-abasement and obedience to the Law, letting God be God, so that we can worship at His footstool. After all, that’s where we belong. The Message? Yes, ‘Christ is risen from the dead…’ and we will never tire of singing that song till the end of the world.

Yes, till that Day when we hear His fateful words, ‘Enter into the joy of your Lord…’

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