“We know that the whole creation has been groaning in labor pains until now; and not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly while we wait for adoption, the redemption of our bodies. For in hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what is seen? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.” Romans 8:22-25
The season of Easter, particularly the days of Holy Week leading up to Easter Sunday, offers us an embodied metaphor of our journey with Jesus. On Palm Sunday we walk with Jesus into Jerusalem anticipating the week of his passion. On Holy Thursday we use our hands and feet to physically touch and wash one another’s feet. On Good Friday we sit in stillness and darkness, participating in the death and burial of Christ. On Saturday, we wait. And on Sunday – we rejoice in the resurrection! He has risen! He has risen, indeed!
But the hope of Easter resurrection is two-fold. We rejoice in the hope-filled faith that Jesus already defeated death. And we wait in the hope-filled faith that Jesus has not yet consummated God’s new creation project – the redemption of our bodies.
We are learning about this second hope. Our embodied reality over the past year has oriented us (rather uncomfortably) toward a waiting posture – a hope-filled posture. I listened to a podcast several months back in which NT Wright was reflecting on this text from Romans 8, and he said that hope, Christian hope, is not a “light at the end of the tunnel” kind of hope. No. It is a “waiting in complete darkness” kind of hope. Seasons of waiting are hard. They just are. But I am learning that these seasons of darkness are the very spaces in which new life is being incubated: “the whole creation has been groaning in labor pains until now; and not only the creation, but we ourselves…” What might God be incubating in our waiting? Groaning in labor will yield to new life.
May God open our eyes and hearts to the new life emerging. He has risen; he has risen, indeed!