New Year’s Resurrection : Part 1 : Theological Considerations

(Author’s Note: This post is the first in a set of three considering the importance of Christ’s resurrection in the Christian’s life. I intended to post this series at the beginning of the new year (to explain the first paragraph), but hemmed and hawed over it for much too long…)

We are just now finishing up the first week of a new year. 2012 done, packed away. 2013 here, ready to unfold. Like so many others, I’m prone to think about what the past year brought to pass. I think about the  tears and the laughter, the heartache and the healing. The mistakes and second chances; the misgivings and the promises.

No matter how each of those equations turned out (did I have more tears than laughter, more heartache than healing?), the fact remains that the days are past—gone, finished. Past. Aside from the memories, all that remains at the end of a year is the promise of future days—the hope that no matter how good (or bad) last year was, this year can be—will be—better.

For Christians, its customary to celebrate this same hope in the future on Easter Sunday, a day signified by Christ’s resurrection from the dead. Through Christ’s resurrection, Christians believe, death has been eternally conquered and a new age (not just a new year) has dawned, and eternal life is available to all who believe. So while New Year’s offers rekindled hope for the next 365 days, Christ risen from the dead offers hope for eternity.

While on this journey of seeking out the abundant life Christ promises us in John 10:10, I’ve become increasingly convinced that how we understand Christ’s resurrection has absolutely real implications for how we live. So what does it mean for us to live in this hope on a daily basis? To actually experience the promise of new life and live out the tenant of our faith that promises us eternal life?

THEOLOGICAL CONSIDERATIONS
In my own experience, Christ’s resurrection from the dead is preached but not emphasized, especially when compared to the attention paid to Christ’s death on the cross. I suppose this unbalance makes sense, considering Christ’s death is a capstone to thousands of years of Jewish history (we know how things will turn out) while his resurrection is the first chapter in a future still unfolding (we don’t yet know how things will turn out).

Christ’s death is the culmination of Jewish history and by offering himself as a sacrifice for all mankind, Jesus participates in the God-ordained system (based on animal sacrifice) that allows us, His creation, to return to Him. In this way, Christ’s death provides the final chapter in the story of God’s work through His chosen people, the Israelites. His death answers the all-time question of how a sinful man can ever enter into right relationship with a perfect God. Christ’s death answers the question of redemption once and for all.

But while this final absolution of sin answers the most pressing question of our past, does not yet give us a promise for our future.

Consider for a moment how the meaning of the Gospel would dramatically shift if Christ hadn’t risen from the dead. Sure, we are able to have a hope in eternal life because we’ve now entered into right relationship with Him, but it is this hope, this assurance of days to come that drives the Christian narrative and makes it distinct from all other faith narratives.

A Call to Communion

A favorite worship song of mine is “Better is One Day.” The common refrain sings “Better is one day in Your courts/Than a thousand elsewhere.” I love this song for its reminder of the strength we have when we commune with God and for its promise that “one day” we will experience this communion for eternity. At distinct moments of my life, I remember feeling as if I was already living in that “one day of full communion.” These moments are defined by complete joy in Christ, a peace with myself and the world, and unbroken closeness with the Lord. These moments are only hints of what’s to come; it’s in this very hint of feeling where I want to live my life.

Deciding to live in a “hint of a feeling” is abstract and real life is filled with concrete hurdles that hinder, (at best) and prevent (at worse) our quest for the abundant life and complete communion with Christ. A large hurdle for me personally to experience this fullness of life stems from my insecurity about being single. Singleness is a huge topic, both within and without the Church, and one I cannot fully delve into in this here post. Suffice it to say, I struggle with being ok if it turns out I don’t ever, in fact, marry.

This past fall, with a little encouragement, I decided to face this fear head-on, asking myself that should I never have the chance to marry, how would I like my life to look. How could I see my life as beautiful and not simply cope with my singleness. In asking this question, I wasn’t looking for a simple answer. What I really sought, what I really wanted and prayed for, was a vision for life. And in every sense of the word, the Lord filled me with a vision for life—so distinct from anything else I am presently doing that I know the Holy Spirit had just a little somethin’ to do with it.

Briefly stated, the vision presented the desire to learn how to grow food and work toward the creation of a farm using Community Sustainable Agriculture (CSA) practices. Also part of the vision was the idea to buy a farmhouse (Charlottesville, Virginia came immediately to mind), rehabbing it, making it cozy, beautiful and welcoming. I saw a vision for how I could integrate my work as a wedding photographer into this endeavor, switching a barn into a studio/gallery space and the house as a place of hospitality for clients and other artists alike.

Moreover, the vision focused on how this farmstead would also be a place for others (students, agriculturalists, seekers, intellectuals, pastors, vagabonds…) to seek comfort and love, open to people staying or periods of time long enough to learn their stories and inspire them and encourage them in the beauty of God-given life. It was a vision of simplicity but without the guilt often associated with such simplicity. It is recognizing that beautiful things and spaces can refresh and rejuvenate. It’s about not feeling ashamed for having discovered beauty and joy in a world of darkness, but instead creating a life that basks in this discovery.

As all of these ideas flooded my mind, I began to understand that my fear of not marrying was really a fear of being alone, of not being in community, of not being known and loved by others. I believe God made us to need, yes, even crave, community (as evidenced in His triune nature). But community exists only when there is something moving individuals toward each other. The vision of this farmstead is one that begs to draw others toward each other, the earth, and God. It hopes to reach downward, outward, and upward, all the while being a place that expresses the beauty God graciously provides for our enjoyment.This Beautiful Life is the namesake of this new vision of and calling on my life. This blog is my platform to share the birthing of this vision and calling. Through it, I will share my stories as I go about the task of learning to farm. Along the way, I will share thoughts on hospitality and communion, togetherness and beauty. Lastly, and most of all, I will simply tell my own story as I endeavor to live in the hint of that glorious “one day.”