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by Joshua Bocanegra

Before All Things

The day Christ died a record-long freight train
barreled through the Rollins Road crossing.
For seven minutes tankers and lumber flats
vibrated through the spikes in his wrists.
A fisherman dropped his pole by the retention pond
and headed toward the hill. A girl at a bus stop
clutched her side as the embryo implanted himself.
We’ll be late for the movie, I said.
That night, a meteor lit a tongue of fire
over the Midwestern sky. Our kitchen flashed,
and you froze at the sink. Christ was just born,
you said. I ground my best coffee as an offering
and kept watch through the night. Legion roared
through the maple leaves. The Pharisees’ stones
thudded to the ground. The loaves in the kitchen
ruptured their bags, then the earth burst into being.

-Tania Runyan


Seven days ago, we mourned as our Messiah died. Five days ago, we rejoiced in awe and wonder as he rolled back the stone that imprisoned him in the grave.

Now, he is alive. I suspect we’ll never really understand what happened during those days between his arrest and his resurrection. But we do know something wonderful happened. We can feel it. The writers of the New Testament understood that with his death and resurrection, Jesus had initiated his reign over the cosmos. Now, he sits in heaven at his Father’s right hand where he guides his kingdom into an epoch of holiness, justice, and peace. For many in the West, the “end-times” have become a topic of obsession, with all our ideas about the when’s and how’s of the final days of human history as we know it. Yet, for the author of Hebrews, the “end of the ages” has already begun. Indeed, it was initiated the very moment Jesus had appeared to “put away sin by the sacrifice of himself.” Whatever happened on the Cross, however it “works,” the author is convinced that it was the starting point of the new age when God would reign through the promised Messiah.

His resurrection is the reason we celebrate his death every year. It is the reason we remember his death every time we take the elements of Communion. The forgiveness of sins was only the beginning of something beautiful. It is the doorway into his kingdom. And yet, as the author says earlier in the Epistle, “At present we do not yet see everything in subjection to him. But we see him...Jesus, crowned with glory and honor because of the suffering of death…” (2:8-9). Without trying to make a doctrinal statement, it is important to remember we are still living in the end-times, the epoch in between the initiation of his kingdom movement and the day when he returns to fully take what belongs to him.

As citizens of his kingdom, we bring his rule little by little into the world. We incarnate his life into the everyday moments. Something as unspiritual as a train barreling “through the Rollings Road crossing” becomes endowed with meaning because it is taking place within God’s good world. Coffee becomes a sacrament within the Kingdom of Jesus Christ. The banal is imbued with holiness as the Breath of God is breathed into the world and all that happens in it through those indwelt by the Holy Spirit.

The more we understand this, the more meaningful our lives become. Every moment is a moment of communion. Everything in his kingdom is holy. Zechariah promised a day when the bells on the horses would be inscribed with “Holy to Yahweh” (Zech. 14:20). When you read “holy,” think “devoted.” Think, “a doorway into communion.” He goes on, “Every pot...shall be holy to the LORD of hosts” (Zech. 14:21).

Everything you own is becoming holy. Every moment is an entry into his presence. All of it.

When Jesus finally returns, it won’t be a scratch in the record, at least not for those already in his kingdom. It will be the fulfillment of all desire, the answer to the groan of creation. In that day, no one will “teach his neighbor and his brother saying, ‘Know the LORD,’ for they shall all know me” (Jer. 31:34).

Jesus, today, you sit at the right hand of your Father. Today, you reign as king of the cosmos. Everything in the heavens, everything on the earth, everything under the earth belongs to you. You have made everything and every moment holy. You have made everything and every moment an opportunity to commune with you. Help me, today and everyday, to remember that. I will choose to see you and your kingdom in all things. Let this reality permeate my vision, so that when you return, it’s not an interruption of my way of life, but the natural progression of your kingdom and life in me.

For Christ has entered, not into holy places made with hands, which are copies of the true things, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God on our behalf. Nor was it to offer himself repeatedly, as the high priest enters the holy places every year with blood not his own, for then he would have had to suffer repeatedly since the foundation of the world. But as it is, he has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself. And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment, so Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him.

- Hebrews 9:24-28

This reflection was originally published on April 26, 2019 as part of Biola University’s 2019 Lent Project.

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Joshua Bocanegra is a writer and visionary from Kansas City. He and his wife, Katrina, serve as leaders in a local chapter of Living Waters, an inner healing program focused on helping the sexually and relationally broken find peace and wholeness in Jesus Christ. Joshua is driven by the question, "What is the Church?" and the way Christians are to be in the communities they inhabit. The Sermon on the Mount is his starting place for all cultural intersection, and he seeks to encourage believers to embrace the other-centered lifestyle taught there.