Monday, April 20, 2015

Creation began on the First Day

THIS IS THE DAY
Easter

This is the day the LORD has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it.  Psalm 118:24

DEAR Christians:  it is not unusual for people to get religion all wrong; to get it backwards, twisted around and turned upside down.  Don't be shocked and don't be surprised because humanity has no more capacity for practicing the holy Christian faith than a child does for the cockpit of a 747.

That is why we must be grateful for the Scriptures which are God's true and reliable voice, and for the Holy Spirit who is always s at work guiding the church in their proper interpretation, application and practice.  In our generation we have seen how over-the-top people can get when they reject the "sacred ordinances of God's House," and rely on their own devices instead.

Today's Psalm is a perfect example of how religion can go wrong if we are not careful, if we forget that the Scriptures are God's Word and not man's; if we forget that they are the revelation of how God takes action in Christ, in history, not simply to repair what our sins have made so terribly wrong  -- the world is beyond repair -- but to create it anew, to go back to the drawing board, to start at the beginning, not with Adam this time, for in Adam we all die; but with Christ in whom we shall all be made alive!

Yes,  this is the day the LORD has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it.  But what does that mean?

The thing we should learn about this verse today is its proper interpretation.  It is often used as a "positive thinking principle" to get Christians motivated on a bad day, but what it actually says in the original language is not, "this is the day that the Lord has made," but "this is the day that the Lord has acted."  The day that God made a definitive move on our behalf;  the very thing we celebrate today, the raising of our Lord Jesus Christ from the dead, and by so doing restoring life and hope to the world, and announcing to all of its people that death is now conquered and has no more power over us!  That is saying a lot, because in Scripture death is called "the final enemy."

What does that mean?  It means that no matter how far you might advance in the world, how many enemies you might conquer along life's perilous journey and emerge victorious...there is still one more enemy waiting for you at the end of the road; one more intrepid foe that no man has the power to overcome; no man that is except the God/Man, Jesus Christ your risen Lord who in the Holy Scripture is called the "firstborn from among the dead."  He being the first that is, and we the many to follow.

Yes, this is the day that the LORD has acted, let us rejoice and be glad in it!
Scripture says that "in the fullness of time" God sent forth His Son into the flesh to be our Savior.  Likewise on a given day, Good Friday, He gave His Son into the hands of sinful men to be put to death as a criminal, to suffer the penalty of our crimes against heaven and to be the scapegoat that erases the sin of the world.  Likewise on a given day, the third day, He raised Jesus from the dead in order to undo the curse and wages of sin by Him.

It is this last day, the Day of Resurrection, the day that the Lord trumped the Final Enemy that the church as always called the Lord's Day, a day that we don't only celebrate once a year in a special way, but that we mark every Sunday, because for Christians every Sunday is Easter!

There are three things that must always go together:  the Lord's people, the Lord's Day, and the Lord's Supper.  While it is true that the church may celebrate the sacrament on any given day of the week, the First Day is its (theo)logical home, the day by which Christians mark time, the day that the Lord acts in the church to refresh and invigorate His holy bride in holy communion with Jesus.

This is the day the LORD takes action.  Let us rejoice and be glad in it.

Is it really possible to rejoice when we consider the immense capacity that men have for evil?  Or the wicked world which glorifies all the wrong things and labors day and night to enlist us in its causes?  Can we be glad when we exist in an environment where divine activity appears to have gone missing, and where there seems to be a potent demon supervising every manifestation of malevolence there is?  Yes we can!  It happens whenever the Lord's people gather on the Lord's Day to celebrate the Lord's Supper.  That is Easter Day.  That is Resurrection Day, the day the Lord takes action, and it gives us reason to rejoice.

Yet joy is different than happiness.  It is deep.  It is abiding.  It is untouchable by the gloom of death and destruction.  It is a divine gift installed in us at baptism by the Spirit and remains forever.  At times it may be buried under a mountain of cares, contrary circumstances and of horrors too macabre to recount, but it always emerges and rises again as surely as our Lord broke free from death's strong bands.  

There is also the admonition to be glad.  What is gladness?  It is that special feeling you get when all the neurotransmitters are doing their job, that feeling of being at peace, of being well fed, well cared for, with plenty of money in the bank, and "every prospect pleases."  That is gladness, except that divine gladness doesn't come from bread in the belly or money in the bank, but from the Lord's resurrection and the promise that it holds for you.

This is the Day the LORD has acted, let us rejoice and be glad in it.

Finally, let us not ignore these two final little words of the verse "in it" because Sunday is a day like no other, it is a foretaste of the things to come, the day of eternal gladness and joy when God will wipe away every tear from your eye, and then all will be well.  That is the Day we await, the Day when the Lord will act with finality to open our graves and raise us from the dead, and we will never ever look back.

This is the day that the Lord will act, let us rejoice and glad in it.

~ Rev. Dean Kavouras

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