Christ the Center

March 22nd, 2008

Christ is risen today.
Death could not hold him,
could not reduce
his body back into dust.
He has come back to life.
He is breathing in,
breathing out
the breath of life.

God’s glory shines this morning,
His face shines on me.
In white, he stands before me.
He is alive, radiant.
All is lit in his light:
Garden, trees, shadows,
world, sun, moon, stars
and light itself.
He is light from light.

In the dust beneath his foot,
lies a splintered skull.
Death is dead,
scales smeared into the dust,
its broken spine
kinked in broken coils.

He is the firstborn
from the dead,
his broken bones reknit,
blood coursing through
his heart, once dead.

His old body can still be guessed
in its wounds.
Yet, his body is new,
so glorified
that we must learn
to see and know him.
At dinner,
after a dusty day’s journey,
he breaks the bread,
and pours out wine.
Recognition comes,
the memory of the night
before he died.
Somehow, on the road,
we were deaf,
as he retold all God’s story,
re-read to us the plot,
that figured him at its center,
David’s heir, the king eternal.

In him, we catch sight
of all made new,
reconciled to its Creator.

New men,
new women,
on a new earth,
under new heavens.
The white-clothed crowd will look like him,
will gather in his name.
Cast your thoughts back into
broken history.
You may guess names
that will be in the crowd.
For now, they remain strangers
to your gaze.
What they will be is hidden
in the risen Christ.
You still must shield your eyes,
must gaze at the sun
through soot-blackened glass.

Everything that he was
confirmed, unshakable
from now forward
without end.

We mocked him.
We screamed against him,
so angry,
spitting on history’s
worst king.
We clamored to see him
bloodied, to hang him up naked.

Let everyone pause.
everything we have done,
everything we are and want,
is judged by him,
as he stands living before us.
We made his kingdom
our bitterest joke. To us,
he was the king of all failures.
At the end, we were proud
not to be like him.
Can we face what it means
for us that he did not fail?
We have no hope unless he pardons.
Now, he is either savior or judge,
without middle term.

A king without a sword,
riding a donkey,
not a warhorse.
his feet almost scraping the dust.
A king who would not make war.
What king was ever like this?
His chosen stratagem:
to absorb the hate of his enemies,
to bless, not curse his foes,
to bless every family of a world
that had refused his rule.
Before anything began,
he chose the most foolish gambit,
a swordless, solitary mission.

Everything since, seemed
proof of his plan’s folly.
Until now.

We shouted our curses at him.
We invented new curses for him.
We used his name as a curse.
We pooled our hatred,
pulled together to kill him.
We drove spikes and spears into him.
sealed his tomb with a boulder and guards.
All the powers were on our side.

Now we are silent:
How could meekness win
against a whole world
hating him?
How could he win by being righteous,
peaceful, just,
an obedient son,
loving his father’s will?
Where is the strength in it?
We thought the world had had its way,
but God had his.

The Father sent his only son,
straight to the ambush,
He went willingly,

The deepest of mysteries
was known by God before time:
God himself would dwell with us,
be broken in this breaking world,
would drown in the sea of our sins,
be crushed under his own curse
against our outrageous sins.

The risen one does more than figure
God’s love.
He is God.
He is love.
A wound-marked body speaks
the proposition of God’s love
God’s logic is personed.
His love comes in person.

Electrons and cells and cliffs,
hold together in him,
move in him,
are in him,
would cease without him.

Natural selection is blind.
Matter is blind.
Eyes are blind.
Sight itself is blind,
if we do not see him.

Despite evidence,
despite an empty tomb,
despite the cloud of witnesses,
stubborn eyes are blind.
Only faith can see him.

Yes, his body is there before us,
visible, more real than all bodies
all created by him.
Yes, the risen Lord
can be seen
with human eyes:
he made the light by which we see.

Yet faithless sight
faithlessly rules out sight:
“Once the ruler is dead,
the king no longer rules.
Death is the rule,
dead stays dead.”

If blind chance rules,
there are no rules.
By what rule do we lever
ourselves up
to declare our rule?

We do accept some evidence:
we can reckon
kinetic energy for
one mole of salt.
Yet we refuse
the evidence of his life,
refuse to consider him risen.

Is the will that purposefully wills
to refuse
a chance by-product
of lightning and acids?
Blind chance begets
no will to purpose refusal,
no rules of evidence
to cite for refusal of sight.

If we turn our backs
to the empty tomb,
to the risen Christ,
if we refuse to follow history’s plot,
yielding Easter’s twist,
we refuse to see all,
and we have no justification.
Our refusal, numbered
with our sins,
condemns us.
We cannot justify closing our eyes,
we cannot justify our sins.
To what rule,
to whose rule,
might we appeal,
once we reject the ruler of all?

A spindle of genes
cannot justify anything,
cannot justify itself,
cannot justify denial,
has no rules,
does not rule itself.

This king did not rule in life,
but served in death,
and now rules without end.
Our rules are broken,
discarded with his shroud.
We will serve him,
joyfully kneeling,
or with knees
forced down to dust.

The one we thought dead
extends his hand,
wound still visible.
The fingers flex,
the hand has warmth,
has strength.
The hand is still empty,
without a sword.
Today is the day to take his hand,
to hear his voice,
to welcome the truth
of his risen body.
Let earth receive her king.

Unless he is the center,
we are points without connection,
unless he stretches out his arms
to us, becomes our radius,
binds us in his sphere,
we are points without dimension.

Or we are the small period
at the end of the law,
justly declaring our sentence forever.

Geometry, or law,
a Son–the definitive Word
from the mouth of God,
We can choose any language.
Every language will condemn us,
as we burn its dictionary,
twist its grammar,
refuse its author.

Our sin is an abyss
without a floor.
Yet, the infinite math of grace,
can enfold the set of our sins.
He absorbed our condemnation,
measured out for us,
his righteoussness,
of boundless space.

His blood washes away our sins,
if only we have eyes to see him,
and voice to confess him,
alive on Easter morning.

We stand on the periphery
this morning,
looking in toward the center,
to the risen Lord,
come back from the dead,
the glory of the invisible God
made visible,
not withdrawn from this world,
the true center of all things.
The center has held,
will hold forever.

He does not slouch,
he is the victor,
captives in train.

Christ, victorious,
risen from the dead,
is the center of all that is.
He calls us to himself.

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