Christ is Risen! He is Risen Indeed!
They say that while circling the earth in outer space you can see an arched line that can only be described as earth’s deep dawn;
light slowly emerging from sheer darkness.
No one has seen it with their eyes, unless it’s been from outer space, looking back. It’s hard to imagine an actual line… yet it is very real…
I am sure there is such a thing as deep, deep dawn for each one of us, but except for the eyes of the heart and the inner vision of the mind, we can’t see it.
in each of our lives, there has been, or there will be a night of deep dawn; a time of waiting – before the sun has again risen; present darkness now – yet with a sure dawning to come; now sight unseen but real as the nose at the end of your face.
is that indefinable time between darkness and light…
that time when the promise you believe is true, and waiting to happen, but not quite yet.
The light is abundantly there, but you just can’t see it, for the time being…
It’s been years ago now, but I once witnessed a sunrise from the top of Mt. LeConte, the highest point of the Smoky Mountains- after having slept in a mountaintop cabin overnight, and then scrambled over roots and rocks at 5 AM, to an overhang, to sit and wait and wait- then to see the entire horizon below slowly glow, not like an expanding pin-point but rather like an enormous, unstoppable wave, emerging from the deep… blanketing the hills and valleys below with the warm glow of new life…
When deep dawn happens, resistance is futile.
Deep dawn can happen anytime of day or night.
On the first day of the week,
Mary of Magdala and the other women
went to the tomb
with spices, prepared to ward off the approaching odor of death.
Only Luke describes this scene as a moment of deep, deep dawn.
Most scholars translate the phrase early dawn; but, for Luke the scribe and historian, the phrase is better rendered as deep dawn. Maybe the scholars don’t think that we really understand what deep dawn is, but I think we know better.
Deep dawn can arrive for us, any time. For example, it can come to us in that moment just after the doctor comes back with the test results and says it’s cancer… and then says that these are the things she can do; but she can make no promises.
At that moment, either you believe there is hope or you believe that there is nothing but disease.
Deep dawn is that well of faith, underneath the fright and fear and doubt, that tells you that all will be well, no matter what. No matter what. That God is by your side- now and always, and a deep well of trust allows you to let God, medicine and your body do its work together.
Deep dawn is that thin-line moment when you realize your life is headed toward an unexpected, uncharted change: when new decisions need to be made and there are no promises for the next steps.
At that moment, you believe that there is hope for a new beginning, as Jesus taught, or you believe that there is nothing but hopelessness.
According to Luke,
when the women found the tomb empty
and were standing there perplexed,
or whoever the messengers in white might have been… did not say to the women: “See, the tomb is empty;
and that proves Jesus is risen.” I personally don’t know anyone who first believed that
Jesus rose from the dead and then, because of that, believed in Jesus. Everyone I know who believes Jesus rose from the dead,
first believed in Jesus.
It goes way back… What the messengers in white said to the women was this: “Remember what he taught you… ” Jesus’ words came as truth, Jesus’ life was God’s life with us and for us: an example to follow, a model for living.
It is not an empty cross and tomb that we praise, but a living Jesus who we meet every day we first open our eyes.
Remember what Jesus said…allow yourself the deep dawning of realizing that what he did was true, how he shared mercy when others brought judgment,
how he brought food to the hungry and healing to the sick…how he forgave the unforgiveable and blessed the unblessable… that he cared for one and all with no boundaries imposed…
Remember how he said to turn the other cheek and to love neighbor as yourself…. The angels said to the women, the two Marys and Joanna, that Remembering how he taught you to live is what will help you know and believe that Jesus is alive, in your living remember how Jesus demonstrated that dying for someone else’s sin is the love that will keep the world from self-destructing.
Living as Jesus lived, forgiving as Jesus forgave, sharing as Jesus shared, is the way to know that Jesus is still alive…That was a deep dawning of realization for the women. Maybe it was harder to sink in for the men, who, at first, doubted….yet is just as true today as ever….
The dawning began on that Easter morn, like that moment just after, while walking down a city street, or maybe up in Towson, someone stands by a beat up car with three little children in the back seat, asking for a handout.
Remember then just how Jesus taught us that of such is the kingdom of God. Of course we know that the money may not really help all that much, but remember just then how Jesus taught us that feeding the hungry really is the same as feeding Jesus; and is still and all a way to keep remembering that
Jesus is alive, and asking us to serve, and we can take part in that.
The dawning began on that Easter morn, and still continues in the health clinic in Freetown, Sierra Leone, where people are still being treated for the Ebola virus; with the money given from Second Presbyterian Church in Baltimore and the One Great Hour of Sharing Offering, by people who believe that Jesus is alive today.
Deep dawn comes in that moment just after the news is bad (Jesus died, after all)- and a deep, deep, dawning of realization begins to creep in your heart and soul; “come unto me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest..” “This is my body, broken for you…” and you know, with an inner conviction that you have not manufactured yourself, but have received by the Word of the Lord that there is a hope that will not let you go.
I’ll say this again: I don’t know anyone who first believed that Jesus rose from the dead and then, because of that, believed in Jesus. Everyone I know who believes Jesus rose from the dead, first believed in Jesus; the Jesus who stood with sinners, fed the hungry, shared fellowship with everyone, did not seek honor or glory for himself, and cared with an undying love…Remembering how Jesus taught us to live, and following his example is how we trust in the Deep Dawn that is rising, not like a pin-point, but with a warm, steady glow, irresistibly, blanketing this plant.
Belief will come in God’s own time. In those moments of deep, deep dawn, when you remember what Jesus taught you, you will know… you will believe… you will be sure there is hope so strong that not even the grave can contain it. That hope for us is the truth of Jesus of Nazareth. Christ is the hope of a deep, deep dawning for each one of us, and for all the world. Good news today. The Lord is risen. He is risen indeed. Thanks be to God. Amen.
… on the first day of the week, at early dawn, they came to the tomb, taking the spices that they had prepared. They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they went in, they did not find the body. While they were perplexed about this, suddenly two men in dazzling clothes stood beside them. The women were terrified and bowed their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, “Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen. Remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee, that the Son of Man must be handed over to sinners, and be crucified, and on the third day rise again.” Then they remembered his words, and returning from the tomb, they told all this to the eleven and to all the rest.
* adapted from an Easter message by The Rev. James S. Lowry …