New Creation Head to Toes (Head to Toes…)
Amidst communal dancing, Dr Who, egg hunts and Monsters Inc, on Easter Sunday, Phil offered the following thoughts.
[Warning: The following might not make as much sense when separate from the other events of the day!]
Reading: Matthew 28:1-11
When you’ve met the risen Christ, when you’ve experienced the wonder of resurrection, when you’re given new creation eyes, you can never quite see in the same way again. Take the Marys from our reading a lot of which talks about looking and seeing…
The Marys went to Jesus’ tomb, looking for Jesus with their old creation eyes but what they saw was a rolled away stone, a bright shining angel, and then, the risen Jesus himself! They were given new creation eyes – they were given a new vision of a world where love overcame hate, where life was stronger than death, where God could take our violence and messiness and division and turn it into forgiveness, friendship and hope!
And so today, we’re encouraged to use our new creation eyes to see the universe afresh! We’re encouraged to look at creation through eyes that see that death can lead to new life. We’re invited to look at one another and not focus on the wrongs of the past but of the potential of our creation; to look out for God’s presence in surprising people and places; to look around us and see that no situation is without hope, no person is beyond redemption, no community beyond resurrection, for Christ has risen, God is for us, and we have new creation eyes.
We look with new creation eyes and we’re to feel with a new creation heart. What might that look like? Well, I’m hoping my friends Mike and Sully might help explain. In this 4 minute clip, we’re going to visit the world of Monsters Inc…
So, in the Monsters Inc films, the world used to be run on fear. It was literally the screams of scared children which produced energy and powered everything. Then they discovered something which changed their world – they discovered that joy was much more powerful than fear. The laughter of children was much stronger than their screams and the world soon ran on joy. And because of the resurrection we are encouraged to share a new way of feeling, to have a new creation heart.
In our reading, as the Marys begin to see the universe afresh, they are told by the angel ‘don’t be afraid’. Which is a fine thing to say to someone when the body of their friend has disappeared and they meet an angel instead. So perhaps we can understand when the we’re told that they left the tomb with fear as well as great joy. And when they meet their risen friend, when they encounter Jesus who had come back from death, he tells them again – ‘do not be afraid’.
And just like in the Monsters Inc films, sometimes it can feel like the world is run on fear. Fear of the stranger; fear of looking weak; fear of violence and war. And sometimes it can feel like there’s a lot to be afraid about in our own lives – fear of relationships ending; fear of loneliness; fear of death. But because of the resurrection, Jesus can say to us ‘Don’t be afraid’. Because of the resurrection, we need not be fearful for love overcame hate; we threw our worst at God – our violence, our brokenness, our fear – and God gave back forgiveness, friendship and hope.
This doesn’t mean that our lives will be easy or free from pain but it does mean that God will be with us in our messiness; that God will be with us in the life to come, that all our lost loved ones are held in God’s cwtch. Because of the resurrection, we no longer have to fear for we know that hope abounds and that nothing – not angels or rulers, not war or loneliness, not today or tomorrow, not living or even dying – that nothing can ever separate us from the extravagant love of God shown in Jesus Christ.
So we’re looking with our new creation eyes and we’re feeling with our new creation heart. I could go through the rest of our new creation bodies bit by bit but that would take us into next week so instead, let’s finish with our new creation feet!
You see, we often forget about or even hide our feet but in fact they’re really important – they can reveal a lot about who we are, what we do and where we’ve been, and they feature a lot around holy week – there was the time Mary poured expensive perfume over Jesus’ feet, honouring him; on Maundy Thursday we remember Jesus washing the disciples’ feet; on Good Friday, how the nails went through Jesus’ feet and here, on Easter Sunday, we’re told that when they first saw their friend alive again, the women held tight to Jesus’ feet. And yet, it’s not the feet of Jesus that I want to highlight this morning but of the Marys.
In the passage we read earlier, we heard the Marys be told to ‘go’ on three different occasions. ‘Go and tell the disciples’; ‘go to Galilee and you will see him’; ‘go and tell my followers’. Just as they began to understand the wonder of the resurrection – of their friend coming back to life – Mary and Mary were given instructions to go; to get their feet moving; to journey onward to tell others what had happened. When you glimpse the glory of God; when you feel the joy of the gospel you can no longer stay still; you can no longer stop where you are but you are invited, called, led onward, into exciting new places to share God’s good news with others. Perhaps we’ll share this with our words, telling other people the great news about the resurrection, about God’s love for all of us. Perhaps we’ll share this with our actions – visiting the lonely, standing up for the oppressed, welcoming the stranger, comforting the distressed.
Sometimes we’ll do this far beyond the parameters of this building – like we’ve been doing this week, where the good news about God could be seen in bowling alleys and pubs; heard on the high street and in other faith communities. At other times, we’ll do this here, amongst strangers and friends. And this is what I’m going to invite you to do now. For we know that on that day he rose from the grave, Jesus met his friends in a locked room. He told them not to be afraid but to be joyful; he showed them how to start looking with new creation eyes and he said to them words of comfort, saying “Peace be upon you.” So let’s now use our new creation feet to move around this place and share with one another a sign of Christ’s peace…
Thank you, amazing God, for the good news of your wonderful love as shown to us in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. With new creation eyes, we will see the universe afresh, looking out for the beauty of creation, for hope in all situations, for your presence in every person we meet. With new creation hearts, our bodies will beat with joy, not fear. With new creation feet, we will travel far and wide, we will journey ever onward, sharing and showing your extravagant love with everyone we meet. And as new creations, we thank you. We praise you. We love you. Amen.