Easter Sunday is going about as expected. At the morning service, my one-year-old son is grumbling about something-or-other, and my daughters are distracted by some churchy activity sheets. During the sermon I sit in the infants room coddling my son, chatting about Sydney and mountains and travel. The preacher seems to say something about newness. I feel vaguely guilty for missing the message, but smile and continue the conversation.
After the sermon has finished, someone up the front comments that “the world has changed.” I wipe my son’s spit from my sleeve. We share in the sacrament. There are a lot of bodies in here today; all of them keen to feast on a bit of bread and wine. By the time the cup comes to us, it is half saliva and half bread—the congregation seems undecided about dipping or drinking—I dunk my chunk of bread into the cup, hoping that there is enough moisture left in there to soften the dry and overhandled corner that I got so that I don’t have to make another appointment with the dentist.
“Christ is risen.”
“He is risen indeed.”
“Toilet Time, kids.”
“You can have one biscuit, but then we need to go.”
There is a new world coming—now arriving and pressing up against ours. They are slowly merging, these two worlds, in an explosion of life, like two water balloons colliding in slow motion.
We drive to a nearby National Trust house for some good old secular bunny spotting and egg hunting. The Spring flowers are taking hold in the expansive gardens. The daffodils peer up at us tentatively as we breeze past them. We find the first bunny. It is flanked by warped mirrors. We take the time to chuckle at our distorted appearances. My oldest daughter stands before the mirror with three humps: the one that somehow shows three simultaneously squashed and stretched reflections. She has that smile of quiet delight that she so often wears. She sees that the world is not on a fixed course, but can be playfully reordered when it reflects a new image. She finds joy in the novel distortion of the given order.
“Can there be any day but this?”
Some bunnies later, we stand in front of the maze. There is a princess in need of rescue in the centre, being watched over by another rabbit. We laugh and run, letting my youngest daughter chart our path. We take every single wrong turn. Each dead end is hilarious—a new start. A return. A new vantage on the world. We turn and run and turn and run. We jump the mud puddles and rescue the princess and shout encouragement to the other souls lost with us in the maze. This chaotic mess of paths designed to frustrate and mislead has us thrilled and beaming.
“Rise heart; thy Lord is risen.”
We drive home eating ice-cream. Dancing down the street, we make our way to our friends’ house for dinner. One of the girls reminds us that “dinner” can mean “lunch” here, so we should call it “tea”. Our friends are Russian, so I doubt it will be a problem. The food is delicious and the conversation is lively. We wander home in the dark, warmed by friendship and cake. The family collapses into their beds as though in a carefully rehearsed synchronised dive.
I sit in silence as the day comes back to me. The preacher made some kind of connection between resurrection and newness. The loveliness of that grimy cup and the icebergs of bread that it bore weighs on my mind. A shared cup is a handled cup, it is not pristine. It strikes me that if newness is newness, then it doesn’t replace the thing itself, but only the oldness of the thing. The Christian hope is not to be made into somebody else, but to live a new life in Christ. It is still life that we live.
George Herbert claimed that there is but one true day, all others being noble attempts. What he did not say is that the day of the resurrection of the Lord—the one true day—has not passed, but has come. Its brightness shines through all the brittle perforations of the world: distorted mirrors, fussy infants, and confounding mazes. Today, God makes this world strangely new. The resurrection is witnessed in the stuff of life.
Christ is risen, and he comes to us now in the homely cup bearing all the smears of fellowship.