Sunday, April 1, 2012

Eternal sunshine…

As Minnesota winters go, this year’s wasn’t one. No emergency snow days called. Higher temperatures than ever recorded. I bought an incredible snow shovel and used it three, four times at most. When Kentucky friends heard that I was moving ‘up north,’ and feared I’d freeze to death, obviously they failed to consider this scenario.

So now I’m awaiting Easter, wondering if it’s time already to mow my lawn. Or maybe grill out for Easter dinner. Weird to imagine, right? History claims that Easter coincides with pre-Christian religious festivals celebrating earth’s renewal. And why not?! The whole point is honoring Jesus’ resurrection. What better could enact that than fresh green grass and increased sunshine?

Traditional theology posits that this resurrection had consequences. Specifically, that Jesus’ followers received the ultimate prize as a result. Eternal life, unending bliss, a pre-paid pass to perpetual paradise. Indeed, such a promise remains personally precious to many, many Christians.

But you’ll notice that I spend little time discussing that belief. And it’s not that I believe it’s wrong; I’m as expectant of and grateful for life eternal as any. It’s just that God put us here for a reason, presumably, with a mission for us and others. To instigate and initiate God’s Reign of Unyielding Love in our midst. So I’d rather not worry much about heavenly things; we’ve got work yet to do.

Plus, there’s a deeper consequence to this traditional belief that many overlook. And given Easter’s near-arrival, I think it worth exploring. Again, church tradition claims that something remarkable happened on that Third Day. When the stone rolled back, not only Jesus received new life. But through His resurrection, God revealed a greater truth: that all people, in all places, of all times (and, I believe, of all faiths), are deemed eternally precious, everlastingly loved, never-to-be discarded. I.e. eternal life for all life is God’s greatest desire. And by raising Jesus from the dead, God wanted all to know that. Therefore, we say, Christ has risen! Eternal life is ours!!

One question for me, though, is- When does it begin? Once we die, right? That’s the normal answer… But why assume that? I mean, if, indeed, our life’s extended into forever by God’s love, than isn’t the clock already ticking? Isn’t death a barely-perceptible pause? In other words, hasn’t God’s gift of eternal life already begun?

Let that marinate a bit, then consider the consequences. All things wonderful and holy, glorious and sunny that we assume about life in Heaven with God, well, if eternal life in God’s love has begun, aren’t those ours already? Sure, it’ll be different once the end’s come, and this life transforms. But presuming there’s continuity between now and then, shouldn’t we live and act and worship like we’re as alive as we’ll ever be?! Like were always and already surrounded by the eternal sunshine of the Light of the World?! And if so, then just imagine what can (must?) be done… Your neighbor, who ticks you off? Living eternally in God’s love, already. Your family member, who doesn’t return your calls? In eternal relationship with God, already. The poor family down the street, struggling to feed and clothe their children? Loved eternally by God, already. Just. Like. You.

That isn’t meant to cause you shame or guilt; just the opposite, in fact! For you- You- YOU- have a pre-paid pass to perpetual paradise. And that eternal life has already begun! So cast off whatever’s holding you back; all the worry and fear, all the sin and self-defeat. God’s love has freed you, includes you, surrounds you. And will continue to do so until time, well, ends, bathing you in divine sunshine. So claim that power! Live that truth! Let it guide you and set you free!! Jesus endured the Cross, suffered the tomb, then rose again in triumph. All so we would see a truth more blessed than any I know. That eternal life in God’s glorious love is our gracefully given birthright. We don’t have to wait for its benefits to kick in. We’re living in that bright sunshine already. Whether next year’s winter is colder or not.

Happy Easter,

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