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It's Sunrise - Jesus is Here!
by Elaine Pierce
I am a morning person. That is the best part of the day for me. I especially love glorious morning sunrises on the beach. Since we don't get too many of those in Columbus, Ohio, I make it a priority to seek out sunrise opportunities whenever I can.
As I read our passage for today, I wondered why Mary Magdalene was out and about "early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark." Was she having trouble sleeping? Did she have a busy day ahead and wanted to get an early start? Was she an early morning person like me? Scripture doesn't tell us, but this short phrase in the first verse of chapter 20 is the basis for celebrating Easter at sunrise. Or before :).
Can't you picture her wonder, her puzzlement, as she takes in the fact that the huge stone had been rolled away from the entrance of the tomb? Where had they taken Jesus' body? What was happening? Mary cannot figure it out. In fact, she runs and wakes up Peter and John and tells them about what she has seen at the tomb. After they look in and see the empty grave clothes, they return home, but Mary doesn't. She stays at the tomb, and scripture says that she is crying. Her world has fallen apart. The man she was certain was the Messiah has been crucified, and now she doesn't even have a place to go to mourn - his body has been stolen.
Of course, we all know the rest of the story, and next week we'll continue to read in John 20 and see that Jesus appears to Mary, and she proclaims "I have seen the Lord!" But just for these moments, sit with Mary in her wonder, her sadness, her fear. We have all been there. We can't seem to find Jesus. He is not where we thought he would be. Scripture seems dry as dust. Our prayers hit the ceiling and go no farther. We don't know where to turn, so we sit, immobilized.
But don't ever doubt, my friends, that Jesus is there. He is patiently waiting for you, and he will come to you. Yes, today is Easter - He is Risen! He is Risen Indeed! In the midst of celebrating this most joyous day with family and friends, if you are feeling far away from God, take solace in the sure and certain knowledge that he loves you and will bring you comfort:
"Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord." (Psalm 27:14)
Thank you, Lord, for Mary's witness that even when you seem far away, you are with us. Help me in the midst of the festive trappings of Easter to wait on you, to listen for your still, small voice, and to give you praise and thanks for the gift of eternal life. Amen.