This week we reach the pinnacle of the Christian year as we walk with some women to the tomb of their murdered friend only to find something amazing.
This year we will hear the empty tomb story as told in Luke 24:2-12.
The Sermon title is Dawn
Early Thoughts: It is a story we hear every year. It is the story at the heart of Christian faith. Every year when I read it I try to imagine what it must have been like to not know the story. What would it be like to be a part of that rag-tag group of disciples who are sure that the great journey has come to a sudden catastrophic end? "Yea though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death..."
Just before this the women who had followed Jesus from Galilee have stayed at the cross to the bitter end. It was they who knew where the burial had taken place because they were the only members of the group who had stayed around log enough to see it happen. Now, after Sabbath has been observed, they come to properly honour the one they followed, the one they loved. The text tells us that it is early dawn, but I often wonder if that is only a meteorological comment. At this point have the first rays of dawn been able to to pierce the shadow of death that lies on their hearts? Are they still deep down in the valley? I suspect so, it is only logical that this is true.
Then suddenly dawn breaks through. They find an empty tomb, which must at first have confused and horrified and terrified them. Only then does the great surprise get shared. "He is not here, but has risen". I now envision the excitement (and confusion and probably still a bit of fear) as they rush back to the rest of the group to share this news. The first evangelists, the first witnesses to God's great act of Resurrection are these few women who had the courage to stay at the cross, to watch the burial, and then to go out early in the morning. Without these women would Easter have happened?
It is telling that at first the men do not believe dawn has come. Luke tells us they consider it an idle tale. After all it made no sense. Who could believe it? But eventually they each come to see those beams of light breaking through the darkness. The rest, as the saying goes, is history.
I often think that Easter suffers because we know the story so well. I think because we know the whole cycle we lose the effect of dawn breaking. And that is to our detriment, because we really need to see dawn break. There are many things that lead us into the valley of shadow. What brrings us back into the light of dawn?
Where do you need the promise of resurrection and life in your world? What shadows does dawn's early light need to chase away?