Mar. 31, 2013
Very early in the morning on the first day of the week, the women went to the tomb, bringing the fragrant spices they had prepared. They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they went in, they didn’t find the body of the Lord Jesus.
I love the Easter Sunrise Service. I look forward to watching the sun creep up and announcing with other Christian brothers and sisters, “Christ has risen! He has risen indeed!
But Easter Sunrise may also be the bane of me. I am not a good sleeper to begin with. Throw in a sunrise service and sleep is impossible. There is really no reason for sleep to evade me the wee hours of this Easter morning. I’m prepared for worship. Two different messages for two different services have been prepared since Friday. We are hosting Easter dinner this year, a first since becoming a pastor. Yet, the table is set and the food ready to pop into the oven at the appropriate time. Even the fruit for the top of the cheesecake is sliced and ready to be beautifully decorated.
As I prepared for bed, I was optimistic that I was tired enough to sleep. My main concern was not oversleeping. I dutifully set two alarm clocks to prevent a disaster. My last act of the day after climbing into bed is to pray the Lord’s Prayer. I added a couple sentences to the end last night. A silly request, I know, but it shows how human I am. “Lord God, please help me not to oversleep” as I drifted off to sleep.
The first time I looked at the clock, it was 12:59. I’ve been up and down since, trying a variety of things to get back to sleep. No success. As I ran a bath (a go-to way to get back to sleep), a thought came to me. How much sleep did those women who went to the tomb get the night before the first Easter morning?
For them, Saturday was Sabbath. By Hebrew law, they were forbidden to do any work on the Sabbath. It would have been a quiet day: time with family and worship. But this Sabbath was different. Jesus had been crucified the day before. Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus had arranged for Jesus’ body to be laid in an unused tomb. There hadn’t been time to properly prepare the body. The women had agreed to go back at daybreak on Sunday morning and finish.
If I had been one of those women and knew this is what we were going to do, there is no way I would have slept the night before. Despite being emotionally, mentally, physically and spiritually drained, my body would not allowed itself to slow down enough to get a good night’s rest, for fear of oversleeping, especially without a two-alarm backup system.
As early as they technically could, the ladies headed to the tomb. They had no idea another shocker awaited them. At daybreak, with dark circles under their eyes, they discovered the unnerving news that Jesus’ body was gone from the tomb.
I’m going to have to use some carefully placed makeup to try and hide the dark circles under my eyes in a couple hours. By mid-afternoon, I’ll be ready for a nap. But my Easter morning will be very different from what Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James and Salome experienced. The empty tomb will not be scary. It will be a spectacular reason to celebrate and proclaim, “Christ is risen indeed!”
As we prepare to worship and celebrate the risen Christ this am, I pray we can find comfort and peace in knowing that Christ the Lord is risen today! May this story define who we are as people and Christians. Thank you loving us so much that You sent a Savior for our benefit. Amen.