April 11—Whiter Than Snow

Lord Jesus, I long to be perfectly whole;

I want Thee forever to ransom my soul.

Break down ev’ry idol, cast out ev’ry foe:

Now wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. (“Whiter Than Snow” by James Nicholson)

The women were terrified and bowed with their faces to the ground. Then the men asked, “Why are you looking among the dead for someone who is alive? He isn’t here! He is risen from the dead! Remember what he told you back in Galilee, that the Son of Man must be betrayed into the hands of sinful men and be crucified, and that he would rise again on the third day.” (Luke 24:5–7 NLT)

There is a gap between earth and heaven, between how things are and how they are meant to be. This gap is particularly and more poignantly felt during these current days and weeks as people around the world are fighting against COVID-19, struggling in the midst of economic collapse, and feeling the toll that comes with physical isolation. It is times such as these it is even more important that we hold tightly to Jesus’s prayer for God’s Kingdom come on earth as in heaven, calling on the two pieces to become more whole and unified. In a December 2019 article for Time, New Testament scholar N. T. Wright notes that the first century followers of the way of Jesus “saw ‘heaven’ and ‘earth’ – God’s space and ours, if you like – as the twin halves of God’s good creation. Rather than rescuing people from the latter in order to reach the former, the creator God would finally bring heaven and earth together in a great act of new creation, completing the original creative purpose by healing the entire cosmos of its ancient ills.” The culmination of this new creation would be the raising of the dead to share in and take part in the stewardship of “this rescued and renewed creation.” All of this the early Christians believed because of Jesus and His resurrection, says Wright.

These two monumental events nearly two thousand years ago were enough to defeat death itself and make it possible for the restoration of all things, a restoration that is still ongoing. Our bodily resurrection is still yet to come – with the new heaven and the new earth – but the restoration of our right relationship with God, with ourselves, with each other, and with creation are all an ongoing, hope-filled process. All of this is possible because of the death and resurrection of the Messiah.

Like the disciples that fateful Saturday, mourning the loss of their teacher and the one they placed their hope in, we continue to mourn the death and brokenness that pervades our world. Yet, we our lamenting comes from a place of hope, not despair. We know that Sunday is coming – the resurrection is on its way. In the meantime, spend time lamenting for our world. Pray and cry and grieve over the gap between what is and what should be and what will be. Focus on something or someone specific in your time of lament today.