Back before. Before bombings. Before mass shootings. Back before ISIS and Al Queda. Back before 24 hour news cycles. Back before never-ending political ranker. Back before Facebook and emails. Back before business lunches and late night study sessions. Back before grandchildren, children. Back before first kiss. Back before family picnics and pool parties and dreams of growing up. Back before walking, before speaking, before breathing. Further back. Before Vietnam, WW2 and the War to End all wars.
Back before parliaments and presidents and kings and queens. Back before empires. Before nations. Before tribes. Further back. Back before families. Back before Cain and Abel. Before Eve and Adam. Back before the wolves and bears and birds. Back before forests and grasslands. Back before thunderstorms and sun and moon and earth and sky. Further back. Earlier. Earlier. Back before something. Anything. Back before nothing. Before existence.
First and only. Love. Father, Son, Spirit. Perfect communion of love.
Perfect bliss. Perfect peace. Only love. And then unfolding mystery. The turning. Love poured out. God creating heavens and the earth. Formless and void. Darkness over the face of the deep. The Holy Wild of God hovering, brooding over the waters.
Father speaking. Spirit stirring. Word making. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. (John 1:1-3)
“And God said, “Let there be light.” And there was light.” (Genesis 1: 3)
And God saw that the Light was good.
Light. Water. Heavens and Earth. All bathed in Love. The Holy Wild of God dancing in His creation.
The Father speaking. The Spirit breathing. The Son forming and filling all things. Land and sea. Seeds. Plants. Fruit trees. Sun, stars and moon. Sea filling with all kinds of wondrous and beautiful creatures. Skies filling with birds and songs. Animals walking the land. Man. Woman. Paradise.
And it was very good. And it was all bathed in love.
But then the tempter and the temptation. Man turning away from love. Away from Father. Turning away from the freedom of love. Turning from something toward nothing. Enslavement, brokenness. The horror of sin. The undoing of all good things.
Cain killing Abel. Brother against brother. Sister against Sister. Husband against wife. Parent against child. Child against parent. Nation against nation. All manner of unrighteousness and evil, covetousness, malice, envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness, gossip, slander, hatred of God, insolence, haughtiness, boasting, inventing evil, disobedience to parents, foolishness, faithlessness, heartlessness, ruthlessness. (Romans 1:29-31)
A world created in love, grown cold and falling into the dark abyss of the loveless. No eyes for God. Walled against him. Cursing him. Ignoring him.
Man turns away God. The Father will not turn away Man.
God’s love penetrates a world gone wrong with new life from within. Sarah’s barren womb gives life. The Hebrew slaves walk out of Egypt. Israel passes through the waters of death toward the promise land. The dry bones live.
The Lord declares,
10 “For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven
and do not return there but water the earth,
making it bring forth and sprout,
giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater,
11 so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth;
it shall not return to me empty,
but it shall accomplish that which I purpose,
and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it. Is 55:10–11.
And the Word goes forth and becomes flesh.
Into this prison of death, Love descends. Light penetrates the darkness. God enters the messiness of human history. Jesus, Son of God, born of woman. Fully God. Fully man. Descending into creation. Descending into humanity. Descending into the abyss of human sin and brokenness. Descending into sorrow and grief. He keeps falling.
G.K. Chesterton sings, “Glory to God in the Lowest” “Outrushing the fall of man is the height of the fall of God.”
God in Christ keeps falling.
Falling under our iniquities, under our our lies, under our betrayals, and under our denials, deceptions, and destructions. He keeps falling under us.
Bearing the weight of the world, the sin of the world, the betrayal of the world.
He falls fully into death. Our death. The death of all things. All hope, all life, all love, all truth. Falling into the undoing of all things. Falling, falling, falling into all hopelessness, all failure. Falling into the end of all things. The annihilation of all things. Falling into the formless and the void.
As Von Balthasar reminds us, “He wanted to sink so low that in the future all falling would be a falling into him and every streamlet of bitterness and despair would henceforth run down into his lowermost abyss.
On the cross, Jesus Christ the Word made Flesh dies.
Into the great silence.
Death and sin face the power of love and an indestructible life. The curse made captive
The Father calls. The Spirit breathes. The Son arises. He is risen from the dead!
In the heart of all things, Jesus arises.
He is risen. And he is rising. The Resurrection and the Life lifts us up, up, up in the very heart of God, the very love of God. The pulse of love reverberates in us in and in all creation.
Reverberating into the chaos, the undoing, the sin, the death that infected all things.
Jesus, the Resurrection and the Life takes hold of you and me, lifting us up from the prison of death. Leading us through the baptismal waters of creation and recreation, of death and life, bathing us in the love of Father, Son and Spirit. We are made new. We are lifted up, Jew and Gentile, Male and Female, Young and Old, we are raised up into Christ and into the Holy Wild of God, the love unending of Father, Son and Spirit.
We who were far off have been brought near. We who had no name have been named Beloved of God. We who were strangers and aliens and now sons and daughters. We are lifted up, a holy Temple unto God. In Christ, we are lifted up for all rulers and authorities to behold the wisdom of God, the glory of God, the beauty of the Lord shining and through us.
The Love of God pulsing in us, poured upon us, flowing through us. We cannot be separated from this love. Neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:38-39)
In us, His love is pulsing outward, outward ever outward into a world of bombs and beatings, of lies and loneliness, of slavery and sorrow. His love shining in and through us into prisons of sin and death. Revealing His call to life, His redemption, His love that is patient and kind, that does not envy or boast, this is not arrogant or rude. That is not irritable or resentful. That does not rejoice in wrongdoing but rejoices in the truth. His love that bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things. His love that never ends and never fails. (1 Corinthians 13:4-8)
His love that overcomes all darkness and will relinquish every enemy, will cast down every power and stronghold. His love that brings all, all powers in subjection even the last enemy to be destroyed, even death.
The Lord has come. Christ has come. The Lord has come.
He has shown mercy, revealed mercy, manifested mercy, acted in mercy, poured out His mercy into the heart of all things.
Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” (Revelation 21:3-5)
All things made new.
All things made new.
All things made new.
All things made new.
Today we rejoice, beholding the Holy Wild of God in the flickering light, the sprinkling waters, the smoking wind. We rejoice for in Christ, All things made new.
This Holy Wild of God revealed in our Resurrected Lord is greater than every fear.
He is greater than every evil.
He is greater than every terror.
He is greater than every fear.
He is greater than every heart break.
He is greater than every loss.
He is greater than all chaos.
He is greater than all knowing.
He is greater than all hopes.
He is greater than all joys.
We turn to him who is all in all. Trusting. Rejoicing. Singing.
We bring our failures and successes to him. We bring our hopes and fears. We bring our joys and sorrows. Beholding Him alone. Perfect love.
As we behold our risen Lord, Dame Julian reminds us that sin does not have the final word, For in Christ, “all shall be well, and all shall be well and all manner of things shall be well.’