The Day He Rose

I sit up late, this Saturday night. The room is quiet and still, except for the soft ticking of the wall clock and the dim, far-off hum of traffic through the open window.

And one more gentle sound: the faint, steady breathing of our six month old son, Nathan, sleeping in his bassinet.

Words cannot express how much of a gift our little boy has been to us in the last year. From the harrowing, hopeful, nerve-wracking early days of pregnancy, to seeing his tiny form and steady beating heart on the first ultrasound, all the way through the summer months of his kicking and rolling, until his early but routine labor and delivery, Nathan has become one of us, another member of our family whom we could not imagine life without. He was knit together in my womb, woven into the fabric of all of our lives, this precious, wholly unique person. So I ponder, in the stillness this Holy Saturday, how rich is God’s gift of life to all of His children.

And His children include children who lie beneath the earth, waiting for the resurrection of the dead. Christian, Delia, Ezekiel, Billy, Margaret. These and so many others, babies, who were cherished for such short times before their time on earth was over. My heart aches especially today for them, and for their parents, and those who love them. For we are still in the now and not yet time, the waiting. We still wipe tears from our faces and cry wordless prayers, grieving for those forever intertwined with us, permanently in the tapestries of our lives, and yet not with us.

There’s a part in The Passion of the Christ that always moves me. Mary, the mother of Jesus, has asked John, the beloved disciple, to help her get nearer to her son. He is carrying his cross through Jerusalem, beaten and bloodied, staggering and worn. She pauses in an alley, as though trying to catch her breath and gird herself for another glimpse of the suffering her son is bearing. And then she sees him fall, and in a beautiful moment of artistic license, the film shows Mary flashing back to a mundane moment decades before, when she was a young mother, and her Jesus was a very small boy, who stumbled and fell. Then, Mary raced to pick Him up, and dry His tears, and comfort Him. And so she instinctively rushes to Him, her Son with the thorn-encrusted brow. She embraces Him, trying to give him a small measure of comfort, and in the midst of His terrible passion, He says, “See, Mother, I make all things new.”

These words of Jesus come from Revelation 21:5, at the ultimate triumph that is still to come at the end of days. But we also have this triumph now, today, as well as tomorrow. Just as Christ said, “It is finished” on the cross, He meant that His bleeding and bearing and dying was transforming what was once always death to life. While Mary witnessed His agony, the terrible death of her blameless Son, she also saw Him reversing the tide, for Himself and for the entire world.

Tomorrow will be joyful. Many churches are open again, believers rejoicing to be together on the day we commemorate the greatest gift we have: the unalterable promise of life after death. We also grieve with hope, for the day Christ rose was the day He fulfilled His promise to make all things new. The old fallen Eden was restored. The dead will rise again. We will meet our children in Jesus. We will feel their breaths upon our faces and wrap our arms around them. And we will hear and sing the joyous songs of alleluias coming from all the saints, praising God together, forever and ever.

It is finished. Happy Easter.

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