“The Sabbath which I have made, in which I will give rest to all things, is the beginning of an eighth day, that is the beginning of another world.” — Barnabbas, 2nd Century, likely not written by Barnabas
Ivy and a group of band friends came to the church to record for a contest. One of her friends is Asian and Ezekiel grabbed Ivy’s hand, “You are friends with Mulan!” When I heard this later, I cringed — wondering how Ivy’s friend would receive it. Thankfully she thought it was delightful.
And from E’s preK perspective, he saw their difference as amazing. But as we grow older, difference often becomes a source of division. Sometimes it grows into fear. Others times it builds into a hierarchy – we seek to be superior, making different less than.
This part of growing older is not maturity. Quite the opposite. Especially when we consider our Christian beliefs are built around the goodness of physical creation:
- Image of God — Our Creator God made us in His image. Our creation is not simply our minds or souls, but our physical bodies as well. When God said, “very good”, our body was a part of the declaration.
- Incarnation — So passionate is God for us, that when sin and death sought to destroy us, the Almighty took on our body. This is inconceivable (just ask one of the other monotheistic religions!) and yet true.
- Resurrection — the sign of our victory was not being swept into heaven, but life after death. Life in a body. And we are promised that Jesus will resurrect all on the last days. As he is the first fruit of resurrection, we shall be like him. With bodies like his resurrected body.
I point this out, because God’s purpose was not to help humanity escape creation, but to heal creation.
The early church changed the sabbath day from Saturday to Sunday. This switch is not recorded in the New Testament. But it is a major change considering the creation story, God rested, and the Law’s command. Yet the early church understood the significance of the resurrection on creation. It brought healing to creation. What was marred by sin and death, was being redeemed. Jesus was the first of the new creation. And we, the church, live into that reality. As Barnabas put it, we are in the middle of a new creation week, when God is returning all things to good.
The goodness of creation is very diverse. From stars light years away to decapitated slugs that can regrow their own body. God rejoices and celebrates each distinctive trait. When He could have created uniformity, instead He made every snowflake unique. And He celebrates the uniqueness of every human. He even took on a unique human body to save creation.
This week we are again reminded our world does not love different. But as the church — the ones who know incarnation, those who look forward to resurrection with all who are made in God’s image — we must demonstrate how to love diversity. This is easy on a walk through nature. More difficult with our neighbor. It will require effort. Training, maybe retraining. But we can not be idle or passive. Jesus has given us a new week, in His Spirit we live and build God’s good creation.
What are we to do? An Asian friend, after reflecting on the week and his children, wrote this:
I just want to encourage all us to be better. To grow in real empathy. Talk to your kids about racism and teach them to listen and to stand up to the cursed few who suffer from the disease of bigotry. We need to have frank and honest conversations about dehumanizing people and how we need to be accountable for our actions to bring some healing. If we don’t, hate grows and stuff like violence and bigotry just become normalized and acceptable.
This Sunday at Chandler we continue our Lent Theme of Resurrection Life. We look at John 21, as Jesus embraces who we are and commissions us to service! Worship begins at 10:30, in person with masks or streaming online.