Easter Sunrise, Sunday, April 1, 2018 — Rev. Paula Norbert
Since this moment (the resurrection), the universe is no longer what it was; nature has received another meaning; history is transformed and you and I are no more, and should not be anymore, what we were before.
So what do I believe actually happened that morning on the third day after he died?
…I speak very plainly here…
He got up. He said, “Don’t be afraid.”
Love is the victor. Death is not the end. The end is life. His life and our lives through him, in him. Existence has greater depths of beauty, mystery, and benediction than the wildest visionary has ever dared to dream. Christ our Lord has risen.
“Let Him easter in us, be a dayspring to the dimness of us, be a crimson-cresseted east.”
― Gerard Manley Hopkins
Too often, the bright light of Easter morning dims over time
as I return to my daily routine.
In mere days,
the humdrum replaces the extraordinary,
tragedy overcomes festivity,
darkness overwhelms dawn.
The world encourages this,
I don’t muster enough resistance.
I climb right back into the tomb of my sin,
move the huge stone securely back in place,
and lie there waiting for rot to settle in.
I am not alone. I have plenty of company with me behind the stone.
The stone is pushed aside,
the burden shouldered,
the debt completely paid.
How can we allow the light to dim?
He is risen.
We are eastered beyond imagining.
Grace Breaks In
In 1965, this book, The Sense of Wonder by Rachel Carson was published. She actually began it as an essay in 1955 and she considered it one of her life’s most important projects. Her grandnephew, Roger Christie, had visited Carson that summer at her cottage in Maine, and together they had wandered the surrounding woods and tide pools. Teaching Roger about the natural wonders around them, Carson began to see them anew herself, and wanted to relate that same magical feeling to others who might hope to introduce a child to the beauty of nature. “If a child is to keep alive his (or her) inborn sense of wonder,” wrote Carson, “he needs the companionship of at least one adult who can share it, rediscovering with him the joy, excitement and mystery of the world we live in.”
In the opening pages of the book, she wrote…
For those of us gathered here to see the sunrise this Easter Morning, I imagine we too are seeking to rekindle that sense of wonder in the beauty of nature. We yearn to experience something greater than ourselves and to connect ourselves to this amazing story of Easter morning when the women went to the tomb and were astonished to find it empty. Peter would return to the empty tomb to see for himself and he too was amazed to find it empty.
Rachel Carson understood the power of nature to kindle within us a sense of wonder. Nature speaks to us everyday of the power of our Creator to surprise and amaze us…after the longest of winters, somehow shoots of crocuses find their way up out of the snow. After the longest of nights, the sun continues to rise each new day. And, in times of despair and hopelessness, much like the followers of Jesus felt after the crucifixion and the loss of their friend, their teacher who showed them a new way of being, a new way of loving, they found hope on Easter Morning. God’s abundant love breaks into our lives as Grace, freely given and beyond our capacity to understand, especially in the bleakest of moments. God’s grace breaks into our hearts this Easter morning and we are called to open our hearts and let ourselves feel the wonder of that Grace, the wonder of the miracle of Easter.
Rachel Carson who spent her summers on the coast of Maine was considered by many the mother of the modern environmental movement. She understood so well the importance of caring for our beautiful earth so that those who come long after us can feel that same sense of wonder. She asked in the final lines of her book, “What is the value of preserving and strengthening this sense of awe and wonder, this recognition of something beyond the boundaries of human existence? Is it just a pleasant way to pass the hours of childhood or something deeper? And she asserts, “I am sure there is something much deeper, something lasting and significant. Those who dwell among the beauties and mysteries of the earth are never weary of life. Those who contemplate the beauty of the earth find reserves of strength that will endure as long as life lasts. There is something infinitely healing in the repeated refrains of nature—the assurance that dawn comes after the night, and spring after the winter.” And finally, she references the words of a distinguished Swedish oceanographer, Otto Pettersson who lived until he was 93. His son said that his father was intensely in love with life and with the mysteries of the cosmos.” In his final days, he told his son, “What will sustain me in my last moments is an infinite curiosity as to what is to follow.”
And so, we stand this morning at this moment in our lives, seeking to renew our sense of wonder in the beauty of creation, in the retelling of this important story of the resurrection. The poet Gerard Manley Hopkins wrote about Christ’s rising, “Let Him easter in us, be a dayspring to the dimness of us, be a crimson-cresseted east.” May this sunrise be a symbol of the rising of Christ and may it inspire within us the capacity to continue to live in wonder and carry that light of Christ within our hearts and within our lives in the days to come. Like the sunrise, God’s grace breaks forth into our lives and we stand in wonder of that great love.