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While It Was Still Dark…

By April 17, 2022August 30th, 2022Lost in Translation

Here we are on Easter Sunday, 2022. The weather has been perfect today, as a Resurrection Sunday should be. The service this morning was awesome, the flowers in memory and honor of loved ones were beautiful – and the music was terrific. There was a choir, a brass ensemble, familiar congregational songs, a great message from our pastor and wonderful fellowship in the gathering space after the service.

Yesterday, on what is sometimes called Silent Saturday, the day that Jesus was in the tomb for the entire day, we attended an all church breakfast, met new friends, had a trivia contest and Janet made a carrot cake for the festivities with our family today.

Late this afternoon, we gathered and celebrated Easter dinner together. It is always good to share a meal and see what everyone is up to even though we all live within 10 minutes from one another and practically live life together day to day as it is. There is just something a little special about getting together and celebrating together. Each of us has our own strengths and our diversity as a family makes us stronger – a lesson the kids have learned since their earliest childhood.

All in all, it was a perfect Easter weekend – the despair of Good Friday was replaced by the joy of Easter as we worshipped God and the our Risen Savior. And we even made some new friends along the way this year.

But that is not how the first Resurrection Sunday started. We have read about the empty tomb, Peter and John as they traveled to the site of the burial of Jesus – only to find the stone moved and Jesus gone. The same was true with Mary and her arrival at the site. Only she was met by two angels who challenged her about who she was looking for.

The thing that we glance over and tend to not really notice is that the beginning verse of John 20 tells us, in no uncertain terms, that Mary Magdalene arrived at the tomb while it was still dark outside. We assume that all of Easter was bright and joyful and celebratory, but that’s not the way it began.

The truth of the matter is that the day started out in confusion, fear, a missing body and, undoubtedly, questions about the whole abnormal situation at the site of the tomb. There were conflicting reports about the whereabouts of Jesus… Why didn’t Mary recognize Him before he uttered her name? What about impetuous Peter and John? What were they to do? The whole scene was a far cry from the Easter that we, as Christians, tend to celebrate with songs, worship, feasts and family gatherings.

That day, the one that started in darkness, ended up in the light. Jesus had overcome death, Satan would ultimately be vanquished, the disciples had their leader back, if only until the ascension – and at Pentecost, the assembled throngs of people received the Holy Spirit at the first gathering of the church.

Peter preached the first sermon of the church – we learn that in Acts, but it all started on that day that Jesus rose from the dead, before daylight, and once again threw the world into confusion. One thing was clear – He was the Son of God! The church would never have grown, or even existed, had it not been for the triumph of Jesus over death.

Our verse for tonight comes from John 20 – the chapter that lets us look behind the curtain of that first Resurrection morning – while it was still dark outside. The apostle John, who wrote the Gospel that bears his name, tells us, in John 20:1-2, “Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the entrance. So she came running to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one Jesus loved, and said, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we don’t know where they have put him!”

My encouragement this evening is that we are fortunate to have God who helps us to live in the light – overcoming darkness at every turn. My prayer is that we will dwell on all the facets of the life and death of Jesus so that we will have a better understanding of the sacrifice that Jesus the Son, and God the Father, made to re-unite us with them for all eternity. Happy Easter – He is Risen – Have a great day in the Lord, grace and peace…