When we moved to Charlottesville, we hoped for an old house in an old neighborhood. We didn't want a fixer-upper (anyone who knows me knows what a disaster that would launch), but we wanted something with scuffs in the wood floors and a couple good creaking spots in the staircase and a grand front door with a large stained-glass window gathering the sunlight and streaming the rainbow shafts into the foyer where, in warm months, we'd welcome all our friends with glasses of wine and Miska's yummy hors d'oeuvres. We hoped for a yard with green grass, grass that had reached into that plot of soil so long and deep that it owned the place. We were simply guests. We wanted trees with kid's names from numerous decades scratched into the bark, trees with sturdy barrel-sized branches to undergird the fort we'd build for the boys.
Unfortunately, our dream outstretched our pocket book, and for some odd reason the bank wanted to hand us a loan they thought we could actually repay. We do love the house that's become home. Still, we have flashing fancies of living in something old, something old that is – with love and care and joy – made new again and again.
When I was a kid, I mocked the so-called rust belt cities. I believed them to be used up and burnt out. I was ignorant. Now those very places, like Detroit, Pittsburg and Cincinnati, fascinate me. I gobble up their stories. I'm eager for all the signs of renewal. They say that in some Detroit neighborhoods, you could buy up a block for the price of a single dwelling in a major East Coast town. My, wouldn't that be fun – the chance to grab a few friends and resuscitate an entire city block.
This instinct, to breathe new life into old and discarded things, is an expression of Easter hope. Resurrection does not announce a creation ex nihilo. Something out of nothing happened once, at the origins of our cosmos. Ever since, creation always comes from something, out of something. Jesus’ body came back to life – he wasn't granted a new one. Still evidencing the scars from his wounds, Jesus’ body, his old tissue and his old bones, were made perfectly new. This is how God breaks resurrection loose everywhere. God's New Creation, inaugurated in Jesus, takes ramshackle villages and ramshackle stories, tired words and tired souls, limp hopes and limp hearts – it takes all those things that are used up and rusted out and announces: Rise up. Live.