A Bridge Between Heaven and Earth
April 22, 2022
At the Easter Vigil service, chanting along with the ancient language of the Exsultet, we sing of Jesus’s resurrection as when “heaven and earth are joined, and we are reconciled to God.” The song reminds us that the world itself has changed in Jesus—we could think of it as a deeper truth being unveiled, or rebuilt, or continued, or even bridged.
Jesus has built a bridge between heaven and earth—there’s literally a new path, a new relationship, in the world—and that bridge image is helpful. It’s like someone plunked down a giant, river-crossing bridge that leads into eternity right by our home. It’s changed the flow of traffic, and we don’t arrive to our work by the same way. People are still writing letters to the editor about it and demanding to know how to drive in a roundabout that makes everyone so equal. What seems impossibly far away, across death and finitude, has become part of our lives. Jesus’s bridge into heaven changes everything about this side of the river.
In part, Easter is about this objective change. So many of its hymns praise the strife being over or the whole triumphant event being accomplished. Bridge completed! We are linked to the heavenly places.
In part, though, Easter is also about the subjective acceptance of that change. It’s about how we enjoy that bridge and about how it changes our lives. Easter is about more than resurrection—it’s about what resurrection has to do with us. When a city builds a new bridge, there’s the whole ribbon-cutting ceremony, but what really matters is how people use the bridge, how it affects the day-to-day life of a community.
Accepting Easter means using that bridge between heaven and earth. It means living like the place we are in, in all its challenge and happiness and mundanity, is now the heavenly road. It means we let eternity color the present, letting the divine presence give us the courage to live with greater compassion for our neighbors because the world shares in a heavenly abundance. It means we take the river of death seriously, but not ultimately. Accepting Easter means living linked to God, now as well as always.
Photo: Jerome Dominici, Pexels