Tonight in the solemn Easter Vigil the church universal will recall the whole of salvation history from creation through the great flood, from the call of Abraham to the crossing of the sea, from the mighty prophets to the empty tomb.
Wiser souls than I have sought to understand and explain how the cross and the resurrection change everything. Who am I to add my voice? Who am I to remain silent?
The great procession of stories from Genesis forward is a reflection of the truth of humanity as a people of story. We live not in ideas, philosophy, not ultimately. We see our lives as stories, unfolding. "Once upon a time" to "The End." God's revelation is the story which is the foundation of all our stories.
Once upon a time, when the Spirit, the mighty wind, swept over the waters, all that was brought into being was good. It is good. Humankind was created the best of all, in the image and likeness of God, who one day would reveal the original from which the image is cast in the person of Jesus of Nazareth.
Humanity's election from among all God's creatures was for the revelation of God's perfect image to God's creation. We were to be the good shepherds. In order that we might perfectly reflect the Creator, we had to be made free like God. We are free to worship God. Which means we are free not to worship God. And so it went. And so it goes.
Once upon a time, God elected a remnant of humanity to fulfill the call of God-image-bearer for all of humanity. The family of Abraham were to be the light of God-image to all the nations. But in order that they might perfectly reflect the image of God, they had to be free. They were free to live for the world or live for their own tribe. They were free to worship their Creator or the local counterfeit. And so it went. And so it goes.
Once upon a time, God elected a remnant of the Jewish people to fulfill the call of God-image-bearer for all of creation. As the prophets foretold, a King, anointed to rule, would stand at the head of the nation who stood at the head of humanity, who stand at the head of created things. Messiah, Christ, Anointed. Jesus of Nazareth, begotten of God, incarnate by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin in the fullness of time, the Man in whose image Adam (Hebrew for man) was made.
In the fullness of time Jesus the King entered into his eternal destiny by exercising his freedom, our freedom, in a perfect Yes to God the Father. In the fullness of love, which is to will the good of Another, Jesus allowed that all of humanity's Noes to God be gathered unto Him: No to God's sovereignty. No to peace. No to the call to stewardship of the earth. No to gentleness and kindness and faithfulness. No to life. All the Noes and the destruction they wreak, Jesus carries in his flesh to the cross. Human suffering
is united with the eternal, perfect love of God the Father to redeem all that is broken
in creation and to inaugurate creation’s renewal. Death, the final NO is confronted with the perfect YES. And death cannot endure.
"The End," to our great and joyous surprise, is a new beginning.