Easter Sunrise Service
St Barbara’s 05.04.15
Some of you may love early mornings, starting the day before the rest of the world is awake.
Others of you may hate early mornings. Your brain refuses to engage; your body fails to break free of its groggy state.
As I think on some of my particularly early mornings, through the groggy haze of tiredness there has often been some sort of anticipation, excitement, to make the early start worthwhile.
As a child, I remember having to get up before dawn and change while still half-asleep before being bundled into our camper van and driving to the car ferry that would be the start of our journey to my grandparents in Germany.
As a teenager, I remember packing up my tent in the dark, so as to be ready to begin a mammoth mountain climb in the cool of the dawn, before the sun’s rays became too hot.
As an adult, having to get up at 4am in order to catch a flight to some exotic holiday location.
As a father, being woken in the early hours to act as emergency mid-wife in helping deliver two of our children into the world. (Our oldest had the good sense to wait until we got to hospital.)
But that first Easter morning, just after sunrise, for those three women heading to the tomb, there would have been no sense of anticipation or excitement.
The grogginess and lethargy they would have felt would have been caused by tiredness, but mainly by unconsolable grief. The one they had loved, the one they had given up everything to follow, the one who had known them and loved them and understood them, the one who had offered them hope, lay dead, and here they are going to his tomb to pay their last respects.
An early morning without hope, without promise.
What they encounter at the tomb changes everything. From the darkness of despair bursts forth blinding hope. From the depths of sadness comes forth uncontainable joy. From death bursts forth irresistible life.
It takes a while for them to grasp it. The empty tomb and the angel’s presence leaves them at first trembling and bewildered (who wouldn’t feel like that?), but we know from the other gospels, they are not left in that state for long.
They encounter the risen Jesus. And that changes everything.
Our lives too may feel stuck in that pre-dawn grogginess and darkness. Wrestling with family concerns, untenable workloads, emotional burdens, physical incapacity. We may find ourselves coming to the tomb, without hope, without anticipation. Going through the motions.
On this early Easter morning, our encounter with the risen Jesus changes everything for us too.
Our sins and failings have been forgiven.
Death has been overcome.
Suffering and evil no longer have the last word.
Living knowing the daily love of God becomes possible.
God’s spirit of joy and peace can dwell within us.
The presence of God alongside us in good times and bad is assured.
And life in all its fulness becomes our certain hope.
Whatever the realities we are living with at the moment, the greatest reality of them all, Jesus’s resurrection, changes everything.
May God this early Easter morning, just as he did for those women at the tomb, replace our grogginess with joy, our weariness with delight.
For hear those words again: “He is not at the tomb. He is risen!”