I use a simple form of morning prayer most days and since Easter this has been a daily opening response:
In your resurrection, O Christ
Let heaven and earth rejoice. Alleluia!
I don’t know about you, but I have found that I need reminding about the significance of Jesus’ resurrection. Not so much its importance for me personally, but that it is an event of central importance to the whole of creation.
It’s what’s at the heart of Lesslie Newbigin’s book, ‘The Gospel as Public Truth’. Somehow, our society has managed to manoeuvre almost all religious belief into the personal sphere and out of the public sphere. So nobody is particularly bothered when Jesus’ teaching, and his birth, death and resurrection, are personally important to Christians. But it’s a different matter when it gets ‘out there’ in the public sphere.
The opening sentence in my devotions reminds me that Jesus’ resurrection is an event of unprecedented importance for everyone, and so it becomes a wonderful and simple prayer for our mission as a Church.
I spend a lot of time choosing songs for our Sunday services. I try to pick songs that are right for not only the theme, but for that particular moment in the service as best I can plan and imagine it. And a mix of new and older songs/hymns.
One song I’ve grown to love is ‘O Praise the Name’ by Hillsong. These are the words used to sing of the resurrection:
Then on the third at break of dawn
The Son of heaven rose again
O trampled death where is your sting?
The angels roar for Christ the King.
One of the fun things to do with children is teach them animal sounds. “What does the sheep say?” “What does the Lion say?” What does the angel say? Angel??? Yes, what do angels say? Apparently the same as the lions. According to this song they roar!
Pretty much from the first time I heard it, I liked the song. Actually, I felt more than a bit unsure about the angels ‘roaring’. It felt somehow a bit coarse. But I began to imagine the angels watching and waiting. Watching the events leading up to the crucifixion. Watching the injustice of his arrest and trial. Watching Pilate capitulating to the baying mob and sentencing Jesus to be tortured and crucified. Watching his slow death nailed to that cross among thieves. Watching as he was buried in the tomb.
And then waiting. Hoping. Maybe they knew what would happen? I don’t know. I don’t know what it’s like to ‘wait’ if you live outside of time like angels must. But I imagine them holding their collective breath. They surely know what it will mean if Jesus does overcome death. Everyone’s future depends on it. All God’s eggs are in this one basket. Death or glory. Come on Jesus.
What else would they do but roar when Jesus conquers death and rises to new life? A billion times more joy-filled than Ireland scoring the winning try against France to complete a Six Nations Grand Slam. A trillion times more sheer joy than anything we can imagine. Why wouldn’t they roar. Let us roar too. He’s the man. He did it. Not a sporting God. The real God. Let heaven and earth rejoice. Alleluia!
So maybe we can get over our reluctance to speak about Jesus’ resurrection outside our personal and Church-based life. Maybe we can get over our reserve about expressing joyful enthusiasm. Yes, a joy which may often be deep and gentle. And a joy which is sometimes a roar of praise.
Nothing more important has happened in human history. Nothing more important than this one person whose life, death and crowning resurrection has declared him with power to be the Son of God and the Saviour of all creation. Let’s not keep this good news to ourselves.
O praise the name of the Lord our God.
O praise his name for evermore.
For endless days we will sing your praise.
Oh Lord, Oh Lord our God.
May the deep joy of the resurrection grow in us. And touched by God’s Spirit, cause us to join in the roar of the angels.
With my love and prayers.