Monday, April 05, 2010

Waking Up in a Strange but Familiar Place

In one of the Chronicles of Narnia, the Pevensie children are whisked away to Narnia from England, and they show up in a land that they do not at first recognize. There are some castle ruins and orchards and a stream, but as they begin to explore there are a number of odd moments where things look strangely familiar. An object that belonged to one of the children, a wall in the same place as one they remembered, and as these little curiosities grow, they suddenly realize that they are at the old castle Cair Paravel where they had reigned in their last adventure, only now it’s been over a thousand years.

In 1 Corinthians 15:58, at the close of Paul’s great description of the resurrection and our hope, He says: “Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, know that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.” And I think the Narnia story is perhaps in some vague way what the resurrection will be like. Instead of finding ruins, we will awake to glory. And instead of some kind of grave danger, we will awake to the Return of the King. But I do think that what Paul means here is that our labors here and now will not be forgotten or finally destroyed. Though the Lord tarry for thousands of years beyond our lifetimes, the hope of the resurrection is the hope in part that we will one day walk around on these Palouse hills and see the glories that the Spirit began in our day.

This meal itself is in some sense and insistence of this. In a mystery which we do not understand, the Holy Spirit feeds us with the body and blood of the risen Jesus every week as we break this bread and share this wine. But this means that the body and blood of Jesus are being sown into us, into our lives, into our actions and words. In other words, the resurrected Jesus is here. And He is giving Himself to us and to our children and grandchildren. And even if we couldn’t believe that our lives will be worth much, that our lives will be remembered, you can and must believe that the life of Jesus in you will remain. The resurrected life of Jesus in you is working out God’s purposes in this world here and now.

And one day, we will wake up in a strange but familiar place full of glory and beauty, and don’t be surprised to find a hill that you once walked on, a church you helped to build, music you wrote, art painted by a friend, and maybe even an enormous library with an ancient dusty basement that looks strangely like Pastor Leithart’s home library. So come, eat, drink, and rejoice.

No comments: