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Where Are You?


And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden. But the Lord God called to the man and said to him, “Where are you?”

 

Then the Lord God said, “Behold, the man has become like one of Us in knowing good and evil. Now, lest he reach out his hand and take also of the tree of life and eat, and live forever—” therefore the Lord God sent him out from the garden of Eden to work the ground from which he was taken. He drove out the man, and at the east of the garden of Eden He placed the cherubim and a flaming sword that turned every way to guard the way to the tree of life.

-       Genesis 3:4b-5, 22-24

 

The Paschal weekend is here, far removed in space and time from the events of Jesus’ last week culminating in His crucifixion, death, and Resurrection. Even so, the Man, the life He lived, the teachings, and most of all, the work He accomplished on behalf of us and for all creation are as important and meaningful today as they were when they occurred. Indeed, the crucifixion and Resurrection of Jesus Christ are timeless in efficacy, permanently and completely altering the reality in which we live.

 

The reality of human life is that we were created by God for communion and fellowship with Him. Made in the image of God, human beings reflect God in our capacities. We possess intellect, reason, free will, and potentialities. Additionally, God created human beings to populate the earth and to have dominion over it as caretakers of it. In short, human beings were created to reflect God in bringing forth life and maintaining order in life, both of which require communion with God to be fulfilled. Everything we needed to be fully human was established by our creation and given to us by our Creator.

 

Yet, human life today looks nothing like that. We know the story of the Fall, and the ebb and flow of the human story: faithfulness and rebellion, success and failure, good and evil, and so forth. In our current generation, we are encouraged to forget what we once were and could be yet again in exchange for the promises of progress in science, technology, and medicine. Whether with the best of intentions or the most nefarious plans, the choice before us is still the choice of the tempter in the Garden. “You will not surely die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” (vv. 4-5)

 

We can be like God. Really, we can just be our own gods determining our own future and building our own world. When we look at popular culture – indeed when we consider the established bodies that organize our society, it is impossible not to see the countless ways in which we seek to be our own authority, our own god. However we phrase it, ‘I am my own god’ is the mantra of our times, so much so that we’ve sought to convince ourselves we can choose our own identity – to the point of absurdity. Even in the Christian community, we pursue our own ends without stopping to ask whether we are choosing our own lives or if we are accepting the life God desires for us.

 

Many Christians will attend the Holy Week worship services of Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Easter Sunday. We’ll receive Holy Communion and remember the Last Supper, hear readings of the last hours of Jesus’ life and the account of His death, and then we’ll celebrate His Resurrection in worship and song, along with Easter egg hunts at church or with family and friends, followed by Easter dinner with ham and all the fixin’s. At least, that is how it’s done in the South.

 

I’m not saying that’s wrong, but one has to admit that it is a rather pallid celebration of the single, greatest event in human history. Death has been destroyed! Pass the potato salad, please. Family and friends are crucial to fulfillment in human life, as is food for sustaining life. How many things can be said about the Resurrection? The grave was empty. Jesus rose. Death is defeated. There are only so many ways to say that, but we need to focus on the Resurrection until it becomes the defining reality of our lives.

 

Where are you? The question God posed to the man and woman in paradise is the question He poses to us. Where are you in relation to your Creator, and where are you relative to who you were created to be? This holiest of weekends recounts the work of God in opening His Kingdom to human beings. All we once had and lost is now being restored to us because God has chosen to redeem us. We Christians cannot lose sight of that because our world surely has. We are called to be witnesses to God’s faithfulness even in the faithless pursuit of every shiny new idea.

 

Where are you? Are you with the academies and universities pushing us toward social Marxism? Are you with Hollywood promoting everything it is not? Maybe you are near the aging stars, rearranging and changing body parts to maintain the illusion of youth. Are you with the psychiatrists who can medicate your many shortcomings, or the psychologists who can explain and excuse your flaws and weaknesses? Are you following the scientists who claim nothing exists except matter and energy?

 

The Cross of Christ reveals the conclusion of myriad human decisions to be our own gods. When we rule ourselves – an inclination arising from our creation – we march bravely forward to our own destruction. Every time. The story never changes. If we stand with the world, we die with the world. We should think about that when we hear extravagant promises of great new ideas and advances. Are they of God? Do they come from people seeking to magnify and glorify God in the world? If not, then a measure of caution is wise. 

 

The Resurrection of Jesus Christ bears witness to God’s unlimited and eternal commitment to human beings. It is the promise of redemption regardless of how great our errors or misguided our plans, and it’s the revelation that God has more in store for us, that there is more than we can see much less understand. Where are you in the context of resurrection?

 

Creation itself points insistently to life, from the dormant seeds in winter snow to the birth of new stars so far away they are burning out before we see their light. The whole of creation strains toward life and as the Psalms tells us, vibrates with praise to its God. Only human beings willingly choose pathways that lead to death. Where are you in the choices promoting death?

 

Where are you? The call of God to each of us continues tirelessly because His love is steadfast and unwavering. He has taken on death through the Cross and consumed it with His own Life. Where are you? We can turn toward Him and pursue life, or we can turn away and choose death. It doesn’t matter how antiquated it sounds or how much Christianity is mocked. If we look frankly at our world, we can see so many ways in which the ends we seek, the things we desire, eventually betray us and lead us toward useless and deadly ends. From two thousand years past, the Cross and the Resurrection tell the human story today.

 

On Sunday, when you celebrate the Resurrection and sing old hymns and new praises, celebrate the promise of life stronger than sin, life greater than death, more life than we ever dreamed of attaining. The Resurrection is the promise that every sorrow, every pain, every death is not end. As a baby in the womb does not know what life awaits, neither do we know all that God has prepared for us.

 

God is not asking where others are. He is asking you where you are. Where are you in relation to Him? My prayer is that you are standing beside the empty tomb, overwhelmed and awed that God has opened the gates to His Kingdom for you.

 

In Christ –

 

Rev. Elizabeth Moreau

© 2024

 

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