First to Return
“He is, moreover, the head of the body, the church. He is its origin, the first to return from the dead…” – Colossians 1: 18
When I was a kid, in the neighborhood where I grew up, we played games outside after school. Houses lined our street on the hill where in winter we would sled. On and around that street and the hill, we played “kick the can,” “steal the bacon,” and “hide and seek.”
Most of the games had some version of home or base or safe. The idea was to get back before the person or team that was on the hunt found you and tagged you. If you got tagged you were frozen, stuck in place, done for or just “out.”
At this time of year, November, the days would be growing short. Darkness came early. I can still see Tommy or Butch or Karen streaking through the shadows, dodging behind a sycamore tree or jumping down from a short, stone wall to elude a captor, to be the first back, safely touching home and freeing all the rest of us who were still in hiding.
Paul tells us here in Colossians that Jesus was the first to make it back, “The first to return from the dead.”
I imagine Jesus, like Butch or Karen, running through the shadows, the shadows of death. When the opposing team is just about to grab him and freeze him, he eludes their touch, their power. He makes it home. He is the first to return.
And then we all, all of the rest of us, begin to run homeward too. Laughing and shouting we run toward safe where he awaits, breathless and elated.
Because he has made it home, because he is the first to return from the dead, you and I can come out of hiding, running toward home, laughter in our mouths, hearts on fire.
Help us, Holy One, to lose ourselves in serious play, heaven’s game on earth. Amen.
Tony Robinson, a United Church of Christ minister, is a speaker, teacher, and writer. His newest book is Called to Lead: Paul’s Letters to Timothy for a New Day. You can read Tony’s “Weekly Meditation” and “What’s Tony Thinking?” at his website, www.anthonybrobinson.com.