Thought for the Day from Toby Parsons of All Hallows’ :
On the very first Easter Sunday a group of women went to the tomb early in the morning. They found it empty, and that Jesus had risen! I always find it so uplifting to picture that scene and to try to share something of the confusion, amazement and ultimate elation of Mary and the other women. The grief and despair of the crucifixion were turned upside down – everything had changed.
But how would it have been shortly after that first Easter dawn? Jesus’s followers would have been soaking up the confirmation that he had indeed been the son of God. They’d have been trying to take in the magnitude of this victory over death. They would indeed have known that everything had changed.
And yet, on a different level, life would have been very much the same. They would still have been hiding in occupied Jerusalem, a volatile city with the religious authorities targeting those associated with Jesus. The doors would have been locked. The doubts and the fears would surely still have been there. In a practical sense, perhaps nothing had changed.
Or, from another angle, we could say that God the creator – all knowing, fully perfect and relentlessly loving us – was with us before Good Friday just as much as after Easter Sunday. Nothing about that had changed either.
Everything had changed, and yet maybe nothing had changed?
There are many “opposite pairings” in our Christian faith. Points that push our understanding. Things that require us to live with areas of grey, to balance different ideas.
In today’s passage from 1 Corinthians, Paul signposts us to another of these pairings – the now and the not yet. We live in a physical world – with joy, suffering, life, death, and so much else. This world, and our role in it, have already been transformed by the resurrected Jesus. And we continue to be transformed by the Spirit today. It would be wrong not to acknowledge the “now”.
Yet we also have a promise that everything is still to be fundamentally transformed – the new heaven and new earth that we read about in Isaiah and Revelation. The “not yet” underpins our faith. It doesn’t change where we are now. It doesn’t stop the pain. Nor does it mean we can’t rejoice in the present. But it does help us shape our response.
As we continue from Easter Sunday into further weeks and months where normal life is paused, perhaps we can be reassured that whilst it seems that everything in our society has changed, at the same time nothing in our faith has changed. The Christian gospel, which allows for both the now and the not yet, is still held out to us by the resurrected Jesus.