It Is Cold and Dark before the Dawn
The darkest and coldest time is usually just before dawn. The army says it is the perfect time to strike, since most people aren’t alert or prepared. Birds are at rest waiting for the first glimpses of light to start singing. Animals who hunt at night head home while others are still in their nest waiting for the sun to tell them to move. Even now that I no longer chase kids all day, I am still a morning person. My kids are all adults, but the early morning quiet and calm draws me out of my bed before the day gets away from me.
My time with God usually starts before the sun peeks over the horizon. I like to spend time alone with Him. I read, reflect, and pray over His Word. During the Lenten season, I also add fasts and times of service. Yet my time in the quiet of the morning reminds me most of the women who were first. First to see the stone rolled away. First to hear the Good News, “He is not here, for He has risen as He said.” (Matthew 28:6a) First to be charged with carrying that message to others.
As the light began to creep into the night on the first Easter morning, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to the tomb where they placed Jesus. They were coming to honor Him by preparing His body correctly.
“Now after the Sabbath, toward the dawn of the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to see the tomb. And behold, there was a great earthquake, for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven and came and rolled back the stone and sat on it. His appearance was like lightning, and his clothing white as snow. And for fear of him the guards trembled and became like dead men. But the angel said to the women, ‘Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. He is not here, for he has risen, as he said. Come, see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples that he has risen from the dead, and behold, he is going before you to Galilee; there you will see him. See, I have told you.’ So they departed quickly from the tomb with fear and great joy, and ran to tell his disciples.” Matthew 28:1-8
Jesus used women to share the good news of great joy. Oh, wait. That’s from our advent readings (read them here: https://www.jenniferwake.com/post/preparing-for-advent). Yet it applies to Easter, too.
My family’s tradition includes attending an Easter sunrise service. One of the most memorable ones was at Fort Irwin. My husband and daughters left around four in the morning to climb up Mount Blackie. It was about a mile and a half hike up this “mountain” but it is in the desert where it is cold at night and hot during the day. They arrived at the summit just as the sun was breaking the horizon. On the top of Mount Blackie was a cross with a crown of thorns draped with a purple sash. The sun rose to shine upon the empty cross, and the sash waved in the wind to remind everyone “He is not here, He is Risen.”
My traditional Easter greeting is, “He is Risen!” The traditional reply is, “He is Risen Indeed!” The grave could not hold Him, the darkness does not win, He triumphed over Death. How do you greet people on Easter?