Easter Sunrise Meditation, 2019

Easter 2019, Sunrise Service Meditation by Dee Eisenhauer

 

This dramatic monologue that opens my meditation was written by Marcia McFee for Worship Design Studio:

 

LIGHT – Salome, follower of Jesus.

It was time to go tend to him.  We had waited, waited, waited, in the agonizing depth of Sabbath-keeping stillness bearing our grief like black cloaks.  I had shut out the light of day between the moment of death and this moment of moving back out into the world that seemed so cruelly-violent to us now.   I had snuffed out my lamp, vowing to light it no more so that my heart did not have to see the future lurking before me.

But it was time.  Tending to his body would perhaps help me find comfort in the darkness, there in the tomb with the memory of him even in his lifeless body.  I knew how to tend to the dead.  I would let my movements carry me into a future I was afraid I could not face.

And so I did light the lamp in the early-morning just before dawn.  And we made our way…

My biggest concern was getting into the tomb, finding someone this early to help us roll the stone to let us in.  But there we were, at the tomb and the stone was already moved!  Someone had come before us!  When?! In the midst of the Sabbath?  Must have been Romans… did they MOVE HIS BODY?!

And then the light poured onto us as we entered the tomb… cool, white, amazing light pouring from the corner, from a figure there.  Already completely spooked, I jumped out of my skin at first and then was overwhelmed with the beautiful brilliance of this light poured onto my skin, my clothes, my face… into my very soul.  And then the light became a voice, a message, a miracle, a moment I can never ever forget….  “He is risen!”

 

Easter Sunrise Service 2019 Meditation

“Overwhelmed with light poured out.”  Those are the words we imagine for Salome on that first Easter morning, as she enters the empty tomb with her sisters in faith and sees the mysterious living young man where she expected to see a cold, dead corpse.  “I was overwhelmed with the beautiful brilliance of this light poured onto my skin, my clothes, my face…into my very soul.”[1] Can you picture it?

Mark’s gospel is not as descriptive of light emanating from the youth we presume was an angel as the other gospels are.  But it’s still somehow easy to imagine light in that empty tomb, light pouring out of an open door.  The artistic depictions of Resurrection that most appeal to me are the ones that leave out the human figures and the angels and just show us light crossing the threshold of the dark tomb.

Such words and images of light bring to mind the wonderful assurance made in John’s gospel, at the very beginning: “What has come into being in [Christ] was life, and the life was the light of all people.  The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.” [John 1:4-5]  We read that text most often at Christmastime; but it is equally apt for Easter, as we celebrate what the gospel claims: darkness did not overcome the light that was and is the living Christ.  This is the essence of what we celebrate with joy today.  Darkness did not overcome the light when Christ was cruelly crucified, and darkness still cannot overcome the light of Christ abroad in the world after escaping that long-ago tomb.  Darkness will never overcome this light.

We have seen the light shine with our own eyes in so many ways. I rejoice in the light I have personally seen in the eyes of so many Christ lovers/Christ bearers in my lifespan.  The welcoming eyes of Deanie, affirming awkward teens; the lively eyes Chaplain Bob, calling college students to conviction; the laughing eyes of Mary Ellen, teaching joyful faith; the bright, innocent eyes of my newborn daughter; the flashing, fiery eyes of a variety of preaching prophets I have encountered; the clear eyes of Randy, seeing what needs to be done and just doing it; the deep eyes of Anna, radiating wisdom.  I have seen Christ’s light reflected in so many eyes; that’s how I know my Redeemer lives.  So many inner lights lit from the one light of Christ.

And that light we celebrate is so much more than what one might see with their eyes.  The voice of Salome from the little drama implies as much as she says, “And then the light became a voice, a message, a miracle, a moment I can never forget… ‘He is risen!’”

How many manifestations there have been of Christ’s light since the day of resurrection!  Light becomes a voice, a message, a moment, a feeling, a gentle touch, a taste of bread soaked in wine.  Light becomes a note, a whispering breeze, a text that leaps off the page, a smile, an insight that strikes like lightning.  How many times, Christians, have we encountered the light of Christ in various guises?  We might be here for hours just sharing our stories if we shared with one another our experiences—And then the light became…And then the light became…And then the light became…

Friends, remember this day that we all have opportunities to be the end of that sentence for those we meet on our life’s journey. And then the light became…YOU.   “You are the light of the world,” Jesus said.  The life of faith goes far beyond admiring Christ’s light or spying it abroad in the world for our enjoyment and encouragement.  The life of faith is about reflecting the light, becoming a sign of the light for others.

This is an overwhelming calling, to be sure.  The gospel of Mark tells us that the women who first experienced the Resurrection light were overwhelmed—mystified, astonished, afraid.  “Afraid” is the last word in the shorter ending of Mark’s gospel, the last word in the oldest manuscripts.  The call to witness to the light is frightening, the call to be the light petrifying.  But we know this alarm is a passing stage, when we push through it.  We know this because the Resurrection news, which briefly overwhelmed the witnessing women, was told and experienced far and wide.  The women’s fear, with which we may identify, was a passing thing. They got over it, and went on to found the church with their brother disciples.  They were set on fire with the Spirit, and the light has been passed from generation to generation ever since.

These are dark days in many ways.  But the darkness of hatred, division, corruption and destruction will not overcome the light of Christ, not now, not ever.  We have a part to play in the light of Christ continuing to pour out into the world.  There’s an old story from the desert fathers that encourages us: “Abba Lot came to Abba Joseph and said: “Father, according as I am able, I keep my little rule, and my little fast, my prayer, meditation and contemplative silence; and, according as I am able, I strive to cleanse my heart of thoughts: now what more should I do?” The elder rose up in reply and stretched out his hands to heaven, and his fingers became like ten lamps of fire. He said: “Why not become all flame?”[2]

Why not, comrade Christians?  Why not become all flame?  Testify to the light, be the light you wish to see in the world.  Live in the light, and be the means by which others may live in the light.  This is the hope and the energy we need, the power the world yearns for.  As Teilard de Chardin once said, “Someday, after we have mastered the winds, the waves and gravity, we shall harness for God energies of love. Then for the second time in the history of the world we will have discovered fire.”

[1] McFee, Marcia  Monologues written for “Poured Out” worship series on Worship Design Studio

[2] From <https://citydesert.wordpress.com/2014/02/16/becoming-all-flame/>

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