Today we had our Easter chapel at school (having it right before Easter is often suggested, but that gets in the way of Holy Week gatherings). I wrote and recorded it in the middle of last week, which feels like forever ago. Here it is for any possible edification.
In 1992, political theorist Francis Fukuyama published a book based on an essay titled “The End of History.” In the book, Fukuyama challenged the reader to consider the possibility that history had reached its end point: a good global order rooted not in savagery or self-absorption but in technology and economic growth. A few weeks ago, as covid-19 took over the 24-hour news cycle, pundits were asking if anyone had checked up on Fukuyama, as it seemed like our current moment revealed that history was anything BUT settled.
History, of course, means many things to different people. It’s a subject that we take in school (Hawaiian history or US History or AP European History), it may be a hobby reflected in items we collect (whether its coins or WW2 helmets or Native American arrowheads), or it may be a passion that pushes us to understand the world around us more fully Herodotus or Josephus or Gibbons). For most of us, history is a collection of dates and events that shape the story of humanity. And there are a lot of events like that: wars, discoveries and inventions, religious movements, and yes, pandemics like the one we are experiencing now.
Because humans are creatures who long for meaning, who want understanding, we often find ourselves asking about the point of human history: why is this happening? Where is this going? And, perhaps like Fukuyama, what will the end look like?
In our reading for today’s chapel, the apostle Paul is writing to Christians in Galatia about their own history, about the story that they are in. Our ESLR of humility lines up well with what he wrote there. Humility acknowledges that “we are born into God’s creation, which is vast, and into God’s story, which is already in progress.” In the letter of Galatians, Paul reminds Christians of the true through-line of history, the one thread that holds it all together, what thinkers like NT Wright call the one true turning point, that points to history’s true end. It is the story of the God who calls out Abraham from Ur and Haran. It is the story of the God who brings His people out of Egypt. It is the story of the God who gives the Law to Moses on Mount Sinai to shape a people to be a kingdom of priests. It is the story of the God who is faithful through the times of rebellious kings and weeping prophets, exiles and returns, until the fullness of time, until the set time fully come. That fullness of time, that set time fully come, that thread and throughline that reveals God’s purposes in history is when the God the Father sends the Son, born of a woman, born under the Jewish law, to redeem mankind, to give us the Spirit.
But this very big turning point in history comes with a very personal consequence for our lives. Moments like ours remind us that God is concerned with both the big picture of history and the smaller but significant stories of our lives, that He is sovereign over both. Because the Father who sends Jesus the Son does so to make US sons and daughters, to adopt us as heirs into his kingdom, reminding us that we aren’t just pawns in some cosmic chess game but that we are people for whom Christ died. And if we are followers of Jesus, if we have His Spirit in our hearts, we call out to the God of the universe and we call him “Abba,” Father.
Over the last week, Christians around the world have been remembering and retelling the story of Jesus from his triumphal entry to Jerusalem Palm Sunday to his turning over the temple tables on Monday, from his final teachings in the courtyard to his last supper in the upper room, through his agony and betrayal, trial and crucifixion through a silent Saturday and to what the Gospels tell us was a quiet, confusing, but very real celebration of his resurrection on Easter Sunday as Mary Magdalene and other women found Jesus’ tomb empty but with an angel’s promise that Messiah who had been dead was alive once more. If history has one true turning point, one true thread or throughline, one true end, it is revealed in the events that we have remembered and celebrated this past week and that we live out of each day as we carry our own crosses.
And just as the life and death and resurrection of Jesus is the turning point of history, so too can it be the turning point of your life and of our lives together. Jesus doesn’t just give us “the answer” as if life was some short answer test; instead He gives us himself as that which points to meaning and purpose and the real end of history. If you do not know Him, let today be the day that you turn to him. If you have questions about following Jesus, let me or another teacher or staff person at school know. If you are a follower of Jesus and you are struggling through these times of ours, I encourage you to reach out to your friends and family and your community here at HBA for support. And as the writer of the Letter of Hebrews reminds us, let us all look to Jesus, 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. Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted.” May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all this Easter season.