California Mission fathers traveled along the El Camino Real setting up mission parishes to reach out to both Spanish and Native populations. Missions were usually built about a day’s journey apart. One sits in San Luis Obispo, about ten miles south of my home and another in San Miguel, twice that to the north. An assistencia, or mission extension, grew up in Santa Margarita providing cells for traveling priests to stay the night, a chapel for Mass and a stable for their animals because the trip north from San Luis Obispo crossed an arduous pass.
That assistencia, one of the oldest stone and mortar buildings in California, is the defining building of our town. Its pitched roof and stone walls feel sacred; they feel like they hold more memories than mortar. A few years ago, we restored worship to the old building after over a century by gathering there on Easter Sunday. As we celebrated the resurrection, we also celebrated the restoration of hope to our town because God sent a church to bring gospel and good to the people and the place.
Here is why you can have hope for yourself, your people and your place this Easter season: Jesus has been resurrected and he will make all things new. Your God became a human, like you, lived in a real place, like yours. He died a sacrificial death, his dust and breath died . . . and that same dust came to life again. The breath of the Holy Spirit was breathed back into him and he stepped out of his grave to launch the redemption of all, not its destruction.
The resurrection body of Jesus is the first-fruits of the resurrection of us all. The resurrection promises a good future for all of creation that groans for the day when the son of God will be revealed. Jesus has been raised from the dead, so you must have hope. And not just hope for your personal redemption, that glorious day when your body and soul will once again be made perfect together, but for the redemption of all things.
On that day, Jesus will glorify all who believe by uniting our renewed souls with our resurrected bodies—and he will place us in the New Heaven and New Earth where there is a new garden, a new river and a new tree of life whose leaves will be for the healing of the nations.
Published with A Rocha USA.