Easter Sunrise

Well here we are it Easter morning– here at this early hour to begin our celebration – a funny way to celebrate – to gather outside in our winter coats and boots around a fire to sing songs, pray prayers, and listen to Heather speak and welcome this dawning of Easter morn – 2015.[…]

[…] I wonder how many others are gathered on hillsides, beside lakes, in churches, in fields awaiting the sun to begin the celebration around our holiest of days – it probably is a small group of people like this one, in various locations – we know too that later for the 10:30 service there will be more, but not as many as at Christmas – but that’s fitting in a way because the Easter story is not filled with crowds and crowds – it’s just a few followers, and the deep understanding that Jesus had risen and God had done something new came to each of the disciples individually – like this morning with the woman – who were more confused than anything– it took them a while to work through the pain, the confusion, the terror and amazement as Mark calls it- to come to that place where they could accept and celebrate that the Christ had risen. Our former moderator David Giuliano in an Easter reflection in the Observer writes: what we call the resurrection is the defining moment, the birth of our people. It is the pinnacle of God’s self revealing through Jesus – there is suffering and death and there is the end and always rising to new life.”
Ultimately this day – this day unlike any others is about God. It is not about the recovery of a dead body. That’s resuscitation, not resurrection. It’s not about the “immortality of the soul,” some divine spark that endures after the end. That’s Plato, not Jesus. It’s about God, not God as some airy fairy pie in the sky type of God, who magically apprears and makes all things happy –no this is a
God who creates a way when there was no way,
a God who has defeated death,
a God who raises Jesus and the world is never the same again.
a God who brings life from death and joy springs from the tomb.
I am handing out six objects that were part of our Holy Week journey. I invite you while I offer a reflection about each object to hold it in your hand and when you are ready – to throw it in the fire as we let go of Holy Week and become Easter people. The fire symbolized the re-creative force of God in the world. It is also light and like Jesus said, he is the light of the world and on this morning we celebrate the light returning – the light arising out of darkness and death. We begin with the Palm branches
Palm Branches
Last Sunday you were given a palm branch as you came into church. The pieces you are handed this morning are part the same branches. We receive them last week so we too could be part of the crowds that celebrate the that moment in history when Jesus came into Jerusalem and those that greeted him realized that he was the Messiah – the one that they had been waiting for generations – and sang Hosanna – but all too quickly, doubt crept in and by Friday the joyous crowds turned their shouts of victory into cries for death. We hold these palm fronds aware that we too have been complicit in the call for crucifixion of Jesus – but God overturns this death –
And joy springs from the tomb – this is Easter morning
God has had victory over death, we do not need our palm fronds now, Hosanna has become Hallelujah – God has won the final victory.

Crown of Thorns
This tool of mockery and torture was meant to bring shame to Jesus. A mock crown was forced on his head to remind his followers and supporters that just who the real king was. The authorities sure did not get it – even when Jesus tried to tell them that his kingdom was not of this world. It is so easy to confuse our human agenda with God’s agenda – we forget that God is not small and does not fit into our images of greatness and power – we think that a human king is a great a powerful being when all a king is a human with a castle and subjects who do as he asks out of fear or tradition or sometimes respect – but these earthly kings are not God so crowns of gold or crowns of thorns mean nothing
This Easter moment is God overturning this human power structure –
And joy springs from the tomb –

And the Christ is risen and the world sees God in a new way –

Purple Cloak
The robe was used in two different ways in the holy week story as told by the gospel writers. The first way was to place a robe on Jesus with the crown of thorns and parade him around and bow and gesture at him in mockery – to make fun of him.
But the ones who looked foolish were the ones that mocked him. Have you ever notice how we sometimes try to make others look bad so we can look good – but this doesn’t work with God in fact it is just the opposite. The mockers end up as the ones who look foolish.

The second time the robe was used was at the foot of the cross in the gospel of John – there the soldiers gambled for it. What do you think it value was to a Roman soldier– to have the cloak of a Jewish prophet. What do you think it would fetch on ebay? This is so unimportant to God – the physical entrapments of human beings.
but God overturns this value system –
And joy springs from the tomb – this is Easter morning

And purple cloth even if it was worn on the Christ when he was alive has no value – as the old saying goes – it’s not the clothing – it’s the man.

Nails
Nails are used to build, to put things together. They hold up house, schools, churches and skyscrapers – Who could have imagined such a horrible use of nails as to nail the hands and feet of a human being to wood and suspend them in the air until they died – how awful to be so destructive with something that is meant to be so constructive – they are a contradiction to their purpose – nails should be used to construct and mend and heal – which is part of the paradox that we celebrate – death which brings new life
but God overturns this and destruction becomes construction-
And joy springs from the tomb – this is Easter morning

Maybe instead of placing that nail in the fire you would like to take it with you to remind you of the constructive power of Easter.

Cross
I wear a pendant around my neck called the tree of life. It is an ancient symbol – the one I wear has Jewish origin but the Celts use this symbol, it is found in the Asian culture as well. Recognizing life in a tree is universal. The cross, however, is a tree of death. The cross – is an execution tool – used 2000 to hang convicted criminals in public places so that others would see them and learn from their mistakes – the cross has no place on Easter morning – for this is a time of new life – a time of celebration that God has overcome death.
And joy springs from the tomb – this is Easter morning

We burn the cross to symbolize that death has been conquered.

Tomb
Stones are still such a part of death, just look at any graveyard – rows and rows of stones that tell the visitors your name, when you lived and maybe offers information about who you were to others – mother, father, daughter friend…., In all countries and most cultures stones are used in graves and grave markers. It is a Jewish custom to place a stone on a grave stone each time you visit a grave so that the family will know that someone has stopped by. The stones we have in our hand are to remind us of the tomb of Jesus, the last resting place of his body. A tomb of rocks held Jesus for three days –
And joy springs from the tomb – this is Easter morning
And no tomb can hold him – the rock you have in your hand is a reminder that God can not be entombed –death is not the last word – this is Easter morning – Jesus Christ is risen today. Joy springs from the tomb…
Hallelujah!

The Egg
The final object in our bag – it is your take – a reminder of what has happened and what the woman found – folded cloth and transformation – Christ is risen – and we are transformed….

2 Comments

  1. A very meaningful service despite the snow. It captured the mood of Easter morning perfectly.
    The breakfast was great too. Thanks to all involved.

  2. Forgot to mention – the sunrise service was accompanied by the song of a nearby cardinal which – for me – added to the occasion.

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