by Andrew Stephens-Rennie
a reflection on Isaiah 25:6-9
It’s a feast today – and oh what a feast it will be. A feast of rich food, and of well-matured wines will be served, and all are invited to this table. Rich and poor, young and old, from every tribe and tongue and nation. All are invited to this table.
This ain’t no ordinary feast. This isn’t your run of the mill celebration. With this feast, on this day, we rejoice at the greatest victory ever witnessed. We rejoice in our very hearts – for the pall of death, the shroud cast over all peoples, the sheet spread over all nations – all of it has been destroyed.
Done away with forever. Death has been swallowed up, and all tears will be wiped away.
It’s time to stop our crying, to let loose, to dance, to gyrate in victory and celebration. To dance, like David danced, with a wild sense of abandon, with a sense that victory is here, and there is nothing, absolutely nothing for which we must be ashamed. But that could have been the wine talking. I’m not normally one for wild abandon. In fact, all too often I’m one for stoic or detached reflection. When’s the last time any of us got up to dance at church of an Easter Sunday?
I find myself trying to live it, and yet, all too often reducing it to words on a page, not letting the reality take hold of me, to reinvigorate me, and to run around screaming in disbelief. Why are people more excited to become contestants on the Price is Right than I find myself on Easter Morning?
Surely there’s a diference of scale here.
What have I done? What have we done? Reduced it all to a tale? A disconnected history? Does it have any relevance at all, and power to get me to my feet, and to proclaim that Thing Are Different Because of This?
What if it is true, this incredible story of redemption and resurrection, after such a period of fasting, of emptiness, of sorrow?
If indeed it is true that in this day, and in this God, then we have found not only comfort, but one who has conquered death (at last!). We have been found by and chosen by the one who will wipe away our tears. The one who will wipe away the tears we shed, if we shed them at all.
Perhaps we are numb. Perhaps lent and the walk through Holy week have gotten to us. Perhaps not. Perhaps it’s been such a harried week at home, at work, at school that we’re numb to it all. For students in University, this past week has another name that starts with the letter H, and it ain’t holy. Exams have begun, there’s studying to be done. Papers to write, exams to take, and maybe even that last ditch attempt to find a summer job.
And so while some may be crying out in celebration:
Where, O death, is your victory?
Where, O death, is your sting?
There are others of us too exhausted to ask such rhetorical questions. Home for Easter, well, for some it’s just like Christmas with all of the attendant conflict of families that just don’t work. Home for Easter, and there’s much more to the dynamic than simply proclaiming “He is risen, He is risen indeed!” “Hallelujah” Oh if it were only so simple. Easter is here, but the distress of Maundy Thursday and Good Friday still remain with us.
And yet, today, this day, even in the midst of the most bleak, or the most numbing of our personal and corporate hells, Christ arrives. Christ has come. And Christ has come victorious. To break through the haze. To break through the numbness, the pain, the grief, to shatter the powers of sin and of death.
“It will be on that day,” says the prophet, “Lo, this is our God; we have waited for him, so that he might save us.”
This is the day. Our God, mighty to save, has come, is coming, is breaking in through the clouds, is breaking in through the busy-ness of the week, and calling us to revel, in the reality that has broken into our lives, today. Victory is here. It is risen. And we too are called to practice resurrection in the midst of our sometimes Good Friday lives.
So this day. Today. Rejoice, for this is the Lord we have waited for. Let us be glad, as the prophet suggests, let us be glad and rejoice in his salvation. Get on your dancing shoes, folks. This is a good day indeed!