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Being on ... time

Saturday, April 7, 2007

Luke 24:1-4
On the first day of the week, very early in the morning, the women took the spices they had prepared and went to the tomb. They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus.

While they were wondering about this, suddenly two men in clothes that gleamed like lightning stood beside them.

Where was Jesus? Actually, where was he the day before? The women could do nothing with Jesus on the Sabbath. They waited more than a day to make their way to the tomb. Had he been gone the whole time?

The Apostles Creed says very simply, "He descended into hell." He preached to the "spirits in prison who disobeyed long ago" (1 Peter 3:19-20). At the moment he died, "the tombs broke open and the bodies of many holy people who had died were raised to life" (Matthew 27:52).

Jesus had died, but just what did that mean? Death is something we know only from this side, where we can no longer speak to him, or be touched by him, or hear his breathing while he sleeps at night. For Mary and Peter and John and the rest of his loved ones, he was dead. They could do none of these things.

And from the other side? The Bible passages give some hint of what that looked like. Jesus was not "dead" in Hades. Did he awaken the sleeping saints, release them from their tombs? In the moment of Jesus' "death," time released its captives to the eternal words of God.

Perhaps that is something I can hang onto. Death removes time as a dimension of existence. Planning and remembering no longer, I live each moment only within itself.

As Adam and Eve left the garden made for them God said, "The man has now become like one of us, knowing good and evil. He must not be allowed to reach out his hand and take also from the tree of life and eat, and live forever." And just like that, time became our master and death our destination.

No longer. It remains for each of us to discover what the new world looks like, but it's no longer death. Jesus waits with his arms open wide. With him it is always today. "God again set a certain day, calling it Today ... saying, "Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts" (Hebrews 4:6-7).

What you say, let me hear, Lord. Open up my ears. In the stillness of this vigil day, let me recognize your voice.

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