The Challenge of Easter {4}

The Light of the World

{miska collier}

On this fourth Monday of Easter, our guide for the fourth chapter of The Challenge of Easter is Miska Collier. You can read the series introduction or read more about our writers. And you can catch up on the first chapter discussion here; second here and the third here.

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Theology of Gender is a six week class I’ve led a number of times over the past eight years. I adore this topic, mostly because the redemption of my own femininity is a huge theme in my story. During our six weeks together, we look at Genesis 1-3 and discuss the creation of gender, the true design of the masculine and feminine, the Fall and the way the curses are still playing out in our hearts and lives. We close by talking about the journey of redemption and what it means to reclaim what has been lost.

I love sitting in Genesis 1 and 2 and talking about how God created this world—light and dark, stars, water, living plants and living creatures, the masculine and the feminine—and how all is as it should be. All of creation is living out its true design in a lovely harmony. There is beauty, wholeness, perfect intimacy. Adam and Eve were naked body and soul and were unashamed. No shame! Can you even imagine?

However, moving from Genesis 2 into Genesis 3 (the fall and the curse) is agonizing. A heaviness settles on us as we encounter the deep sorrow of loss, the fracturing of God’s great dream and of our very souls, and the separation (from God, each other, our world and even ourselves) that we wrestle with this very day, this very hour.

Chesterton wrote that “according to Christianity, we were indeed the survivors of a wreck, the crew of a golden ship that had gone down before the beginning of the world.” Genesis 3 details that shipwreck, and we are silenced with the heart-breaking and poignant picture of God walking through the wreckage, uttering his cry of lament: “Adam, where are you?”

But we are not left with desolation. There is another picture we have now, thanks to the “unique, climactic, decisive” act of Jesus’ death and resurrection.

It’s the picture of a different garden on “the first day of the week” (conjuring up images of “in the beginning”), and a woman named Mary who thinks she is talking to the gardener. . .which, in fact, she is. It is the resurrected Jesus, and something new, something cataclysmic, is taking place.

Wright says, “Just as in Genesis, so now in the new Genesis, the new creation, God breathes into human nostrils his own breath, and we become living stewards, looking after the garden, shaping God’s world as his obedient image-bearers.”

So our first garden–and the experience there—has been and is being redeemed.

And our new vocation, as Wright notes, is to bear the image of God in this world, which means participating in the “redemptive reshaping” of His creation.

And just how to we do this, you might wonder. Well, who can really say? It’s messy and mysterious and is, to borrow a phrase from another of my favorite theologians, a long obedience in the same direction. But the essence of bearing God’s image–and the high call of Christianity–is love, and Jesus is our teacher.

In the words of Thomas Merton: “To say that I am made in the image of God is to say that love is the reason for my existence, for God is love. Love is my true identity. . .Love is my name.”

Miska is married to the best man she knows (which just happens to be the owner of this blog) and is the mom of two crazy and winsome boys. She also serves as a spiritual director at All Souls C’ville. She’s a sucker for a good story, loves motherhood even though sometimes it makes her want to gouge her eyes out, and can consume vast quantities of Diet Coke and chocolate in a single bound. Miska blogs on a very irregular basis at forthesweetloveofgod.

10 responses to The Challenge of Easter {4}

  1. Well, first off, you're splendid. Just had to get that out of the way.

    I love your notion of our actual experience (our experience – personal not only global and our experience – not just our forensic need for cosmic forgiveness) in the garden being redeemed. And then our participation, via love, in this work for the good of the world. That's something to give your life toward.

  2. beautiful, contemplative, and insightful…. like you, Miska. thank you for this love-ly post on a Monday morning. paired well with coffee. 🙂

  3. Love and miss you, Miska… Yeah, your words stir my heart in a good direction today. And I caught Peterson's words (Love that book) in there 🙂

  4. As always, Miska, you cut to the heart of things. Your words reflect a love that is in motion, moving, and calling us toward itself – toward the living God.

  5. Beautiful words from a beautiful heart. I needed to read that last paragraph today…love is my true identity…love is my name. And love is my vocation…which gives a new freedom and lightness to the day. Instead of being driven to make things happen, I can relax and participate in this process of making all things new one minute at a time. So much freedom available, and so counter-culture. May God grant grace to relax into this sacred rhythm of living that is love.

  6. The Schoon Scoop April 26, 2010 at 1:37 pm

    Thank you for the reminder that while we love to sit in Genesis 1&2 we have to eventually move into Genesis 3. As hard as that transition is, it makes me all the more grateful for the Good News of the Gospel. If not for a second beginning we would be stuck in Genesis 3 and that would truly be heartbreaking.

    Here in Valdese, we've been studying Revelation at church this week. It always fascinates me how quickly and easily people get into the "millennial" conversation. We all want to know when and where and how Jesus is going to come back and get us! I am so glad for Wright's reminder (and a more ammillenial perspective) that Jesus is here with us now – that the second creation has already begun and that we have responsibilities in it. What happened 2000+ years ago was a one time, world-altering deal, but it ushered in a whole new way of being for all of us who would follow. As an architecture turned art major at Clemson, I always loved the passage in 1 Corinthians 3 about the young architects. How reassuring to know that a PERFECT foundation is already in place! What a fearful and awesome challenge to be invited to build upon it! As we wrestle with what it means to be beloved of God I hope we can also wrestle with what it means to work together toward the goal of building on Christ's foundation. The further I get on this journey the more I realize the absolute necessity for true community.

  7. Thanks for writing this Miska, I’m glad to have stumbled across this blog post today. It is good to be reminded that the gardener has come to us and pruned away our shame and that ‘Love is my true identity.’

    The metaphor of a garden continues to be so expansive in its lessons of life and love. It is one of the most beautiful images of living and freedom I have ever heard or known. Whether sowing or weeding, bearing fruit or seeds dying to truly live, enjoying the harvest or working for it, the garden is where God through Jesus meets us and lets us grow freely. I'm so grateful the metaphor isn’t a greenhouse – where the environment is stuffy and controlled.

  8. Miska,

    Thanks so much for adding your thoughts to this conversation…a certain ragamuffin author once told me that his mode of living was just to do the next thing in love…no specific plan/vision, just the next thing in love…

  9. Miska/Mistica, the people of earth desperately need you to write a book on femininity. Heed the call.

    I've said it before and I'll say it again: it is plain to me that many of the women I know have benefited from what God has done through you in their lives because of the wisdom you have been given, which is reflected beautifully in this post. Thank you.

  10. Hi, friends. Thank you for your feedback!

    Debbie, I so resonate with the pressure to produce/perform and with the internal shift that comes when we remember that our vocation is really just to love, one moment, one heart at a time. You are right–there is freedom there, space to be and offer what is truest and best. And thank you for offering a prayer for grace. Boy, am I in need of that!

    Justin, thank you for your kind words. We'll just have to wait and see on that one, won't we? 😉

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