dispatches to and from

nathan f. elmore

Dispatches to and from faith, culture, and things in between

Easter Sunday | About Face

Caravaggio's famous painting from the early 17th century

 

{Holy Week}

Easter Sunday

 

Hebrews 12:2

…looking to Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. {English Standard Version}

 

Holy Week takes a turn, down Elbow Road in Chesapeake, Virginia, interestingly enough, and toward and into the Easter moment and season.

On February 13, 2012, I found myself miserably stuck in highway traffic along I-64 East. If you must know, I was caught somewhere between Williamsburg and Virginia Beach. I was on my way to Chesapeake and Bethel Baptist Church, a quintessential, if not bigger than usual, country-road church. Eventually I would attend the memorial service for a ministry colleague and friend, Melissa Cheliras, who died on February 10, 2012, at age 33.

Relieved from the frustrating morass of cars, people and highways, I finally made it to the intersection of Centerville Turnpike and Elbow Road, which is a very theological and existential intersection if you ever have the chance.

When you make a left onto Elbow Road, before you arrive at Bethel Baptist Church, you will notice something that appears to be sitting all alone in its geographical corner. Given the high-concept stature of its name, the New Creation Renewal Center announces itself with a rather modest sign. It was not lost on me that Melissa was dramatically experiencing the vast effects of "new creation renewal" herself.

It is here, at this intersection, where the scripture writer passionately implores: Look to Jesus. Of course, one of the most striking features of the above image is the look on the face of Thomas the disciple. He is captured, by paint, in an expression of incredible disbelief in the exact moment of his expanding belief. Truly, the great reversal of all-things-death has begun.

Like Thomas, the scripture writer knows: Resurrection contextualizes Cross. In other words, you can't get to the church preaching the cross down the road without first having passed by the new creation renewal center. Easter, for the believer, is the ultimate lens through which to see and proclaim Holy Saturday and Good Friday. Easter makes them Good, and Holy.

At the core of the Gospel narrative, Easter's grand reversal gets fully revealed and embodied in the person of Jesus, who, according to the scripture writer, is the founder and perfecter of Christian faith. Not to mention Thomas's. As ever, then, the power and hope of Easter are inextricably tied to a singular person, a gift from the heavens.

What a weekend. It is an absolutely stunning about-face.

Behold.