Easter Sunrise Service (Ken Pennings) 4/12/2020

Will we be bathed in the light of resurrection? Will sorrow give way to joy? Will evil be overcome with goodness, mercy and grace?

John 20:1-9 __________________________________________________________________ 

On the first day of the week, Mary of Magdala came to the tomb early in the morning, 

while it was still dark, and saw the stone removed from the tomb. So she ran and went to Simon Peter 

and to the other disciple whom Jesus loved, and told them, “They have taken the Lord from the tomb, 

and we don’t know where they put him.” So Peter and the other disciple went out and came to the tomb. They both ran, but the other disciple ran faster than Peter 

and arrived at the tomb first; he bent down and saw the burial cloths there, but did not go in. When Simon Peter arrived after him, he went into the tomb and saw the burial cloths there, 

and the cloth that had covered his head, not with the burial cloths but rolled up in a separate place. Then the other disciple also went in, the one who had arrived at the tomb first, 

and he saw and believed. 

 

It was the very first verse of our Gospel reading which spoke to me in a significant way. 

“On the first day of the week, Mary of Magdala came to the tomb early in the morning, while it was still dark, and saw the stone removed from the tomb.” 

I immediately thought about what might have been going on in Mary’s heart and mind early that morning while it was still dark — her grief, disillusionment, despair, despondency, confusion, anger, and fear. 

I wondered if she’d had a sleepless night and reasoned to herself, “Well, if I’m going to be awake, I might as well be awake at the tomb of the one I loved and followed.” 

Perhaps she was still in shock and was trembling as she stumbled her way to the tomb. Perhaps she was wringing her hands in worry. Was there was an agonizing ache in her stomach? Were there hot tears streaming down her face? 

She might have been floundering around in the darkness, largely because of the deep darkness in her own soul. 

But the real reason I didn’t get beyond the first sentence of today’s text was because of what I was bringing to it. In this time of pandemic, while the number of Covid 19 infections and deaths continues to rise at an alarming rate, I was bringing my own grief, disillusionment, despair, despondency, confusion, anger, and fear to the text. 

I’m wondering if most, if not all of us, are learning to live in the dark night of the soul. 

Mary had no idea what she’d find when she got to the tomb. And we have no idea what’s ahead of us either. 

Will we be bathed in the light of resurrection? Will sorrow give way to joy? Will evil be overcome with goodness, mercy and grace? 

We can only hope, in faith, that daylight will come, that life will triumph over death. 

Notice in the Gospel that Peter and the other disciple whom Jesus loved raced to the tomb, looked inside, and saw evidence of Jesus’ resurrection – graveclothes in one place, the cloth that covered his head in another. 

When the darkness began to recede and the day dawned, the disciples received glimpses of grace and flashes of pleasure. The disciples saw and believed! 

And in these dark days of the Covid virus, we are witnessing evidences of new life. We too receive glimpses of grace and flashes of pleasure. Like the early disciples, we see and believe. 

Pandemic is already revealing to us the beauty of humanity and life itself. New York City once again pulls together in this crisis, despite predictions it would fall apart, with the nightly applause for healthcare workers echoing between rows of brownstones and skyscrapers. The neighbor up the street collects fabric to make masks for medical professionals. The dog walker runs errands for the elderly. The dad now has time to skateboard down the quiet streets with his daughter. The couple on the porch gives a concert to neighbors. A civil servant speaks out courageously and diplomatically. A company lessens its own profits to serve employees or deliver health care supplies for the greater good. A retired nurse or doctor returns to service. 

In Barbara Brown Taylor’s book, Learning to Walk in the Dark, she asks, “Doesn’t God work in the darkness as well as in the light? Might we explore all that God has to teach us ‘in the dark?’ Through darkness we find courage, we understand the world in new ways, and we feel God’s presence around us, guiding us through things seen and unseen. Often, it is while we are in the dark that we grow the most.” 

Amen

 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *