I listened to this song a few times this morning and it reminded me of a couple of key facts that set the Christian hope above all others. Firstly, this hope has its origin and driving force in what is sometimes known as Love. This Love defines both life and death. It is most perfectly demonstrated both in the life of the triune God and in his death on the cross.
In life, Love compels us to direct our strength, our mind, our heart and our soul, not for our own interests but for those of others. Love, by definition is the opposite of self interest. Love creates and honours boundaries that preserve the good of the other that it lives to celebrate. Love loves justice… for the other, Love liberates… the other. When Love is present, life flourishes. And so we see that Love is death (of many kinds) for the life of another.
The death of Jesus of Nazareth, the Christ, on the cross, was an expression of Love at its height. The ultimate in substitution – a death of many kinds for the lives of all who will receive. The unique nature of this death, and the resurrection that followed, are just two of a myriad of signs that a new order has begun where death has been utterly conquered. A new order where all things are being made new and all that works against life is humbled.
Because of Christ who has overcome, and conquered death, we who love him can continue our war against all that opposes life with the most powerful force known to man, and the only weapon that we have, Love. In the face of hate, we must Love. In the face of fear, we must Love. In the face of murder, we must Love. We Love because death is not the final word; we have come to the city of the Living God where the Lamb who has overcome, and conquered death, is seated on the throne above every force in heaven and on earth.
Mount Zion, Jonathan Hesler
We sang ‘Happy Birthday’ to about 15 people on Wednesday! They all came up to the front of the hall (in fact I was one of them) and the community sang an extended round of the Happy Birthday song with everyone named by name. it had been more than a couple of months since we had all met together in the hall for community tea, so there were lots of birthdays and things to celebrate! It was nice to be together for no other reason than to share a meal and celebrate our shared life.
Looking round the hall I was reminded of what a special place this is. Old and young, weak and strong – and lets face it, we all have our weak days and our strong days – each called to be here, part of this peculiar family, making their unique contribution to its community. i am so grateful to be part of this band of pilgrims! The last couple of years have knocked the stuffing out of many of us, and each one is on our own unique journey of recovery and rediscovering God’s heart again. This means that living together isn’t always straight forward, but there was a call, a hope, a dream for each of us that brought us here, and it helps us hang on – even when we lose sight of it. So each day there is so much to celebrate as each one does the very best they can with the resources that they have in each moment; a smile, a kind word, just simply turning up for work, or having the humility to admit our own frailty when we can do no more. It is an honour to live amongst such people.
Some days I imagine the cross of Christ lifted up high above the community. It’s as I look to the cross and remember the breathtaking act of grace that was my own complete redemption, that I am reminded that with God all things are possible – forgiveness, healing, love and restoration. Its in the shadow of the cross that i find the grace I need to get up again when I’ve taken a tumble, its in its shadow that I dare not withold the grace that I have been given. We have to look to the cross – like the Israelites looked to the pole with the bronze snake on it and were healed. Whatever path it is God has you and I on, the more I live and observe, the more I realize that without the cross it wont work, it’s simply part of the design.