Christ has risen. Christ has risen indeed. Alleluia!
I sat at my home office window, enjoying the sun and hearing the coo of a mourning dove. It was an amazing juxtaposition of the light and warmth of a spring day and the echoing coo of this gentle quiet bird singing an ancient melancholy song. The break of dawns carries within it an echo of mourning and night. And yet a quiet light of hope embraces this time and pulls life forward. Dawn.
Dawn is where the Easter message begins. In Luke, we read, “On the first day of the week, at early dawn, the women came to the tomb.” They walked into the dawn with the echo of mourning and death, like the melancholy song of the dove that I hear each day. These women walked into the dawn remembering only the night, pain, suffering, death and hopelessness. They remembered that their beloved Jesus had been killed and they were going to prepare the dead body with spices. They walked into the dawn hearing only the reverberations of death.
Yet, an entirely new reality appeared in the dawn, the reality that Jesus was not dead. An entirely new reality perplexed them, as two men in dazzling clothes stood beside them. Terrified, yet they heard the words, “Why do you look for the living among the dead.” Living? Life instead of death? This is unbelievable. As Anna Carter Florence, a theologian, said. “If the dead don’t stay dead, what can you count on?” Yet into the dawn, Mary Magdalene, Joanna, and Mary the mother of James and other women experienced something they didn’t count on. A new reality of life became possible leading to hope.
Hope broke into their night like the dawn of a new day muffling the song of death. It is unbelievable. Yet, it wasn’t so much about belief as it was about trusting, hoping, and stepping forward into a truth beyond knowing, beyond what we normally count on. It is about the dawn of a new day. They ran to tell others, who didn’t believe it either.
Easter dawn proclaims the Grace and the Spirit of Divine Love that moves into our lives beyond death. Easter dawn pushes us beyond what we counted on and we dare live into the unbelievable future – expecting life, a new life. There lay hope. Dawn is hope.
So, how is your dawn? How is your hope? How is your promise beyond what you count on? What do you live into that is unbelievable?
¿Cómo amaneció?” How is your dawn? This is the morning greeting we were given in Nicaragua. Instead of asking, “How did you sleep?,” the people asked, “How is your dawn?” The people living close to the land in the quiet beautiful country that is one of the poorest in the world awoke each day and asked, “How is your dawn?”
I found it to be a question that embraced hope. What we came to learn from the people in Santa Emilia and La Flor is that they lived as a people of hope. In fact, I heard them say over and over again, “Where there is life, there is hope.”
These people had lived through the revolution where the land, resources and power were taken by just a few greedy and the rest of the people were left with little to nothing. In fact, many of the poorest people in Nicaragua live on just $2 a day. Yet we met people filled with hope.
Petra came to the door as we arrived, with a determined face, almost a hard look, and a towel wrapped around her shoulders for warmth. She was a recipient of a micro-credit loan that helped her buy supplies to make and sell enchiladas for the coffee workers at the coffee farm. As she talked, two of her grandchildren peeked their heads out of the door and through the window. They watched us with intrigue and giggled as we waved at them.
As we got to know Petra better, her determined face revealed a bright, humorous and delightful presence. Even though her husband had beat her throughout most of her past marriage, even through her daughter had died of a disease and her son killed in front of her home, she was raising her four grandchildren. She was living and raising them with hope. “I will make enough money to support my grandchildren,” she said. “And then they can go to school, get an education and find the resources for a better life.” She did not live with the echo of death, she lived forward grasping hope solidly in her heart and laughing, working and walking into what she trusted.
It is this future, beyond what she knows that becomes her dawn. She hopes goodness and sustainability for her grandchildren. It is a hope beyond what she knows and could realistically count on, but it is the dawn of a new day that she trusts. She embraces hope each day, as she asks, “How is your dawn?” “¿Cómo amaneció?”
See, this is the Easter truth. When we say, “Christ has risen. He has risen indeed,” it is the hope of new creation that we proclaim. It is the hope of a new day, a new reality that is beyond what our hopelessness counts on. The resurrection of Jesus reveals the Spirit of God pulling into new life and calling with the voice of hope. The old has passed away. Into the weeping or cries of distress, hope calls expecting something new, even beyond belief.
How is your dawn? What do you expect that is beyond knowing? Is it release for yourself or a loved one who is held captive by some disease, distress or imprisonment? Is it living into a joy even when many things around you are changing and becoming even more complicated? Is it finding life and joy again after a loved one died? Is it glimpses of life, even in the midst dullness and boredom? Into your reality, where do you see glimpses of hope? How is your dawn? Where is the light of morning breaking through the coos of death? Where is the hope of life breaking open fear?
For living into the hope is the meaning is Easter. “Hope,” writes Lisel Mueller, “is the singular gift we cannot destroy in ourselves, the argument that refutes death, the genius that invents the future. Hope is all we know of God.”
“¿Cómo amaneció? How is your dawn? For Christ has risen. He has risen indeed… Alleluia. Amen.
–Pastor Elaine Olson
Easter 2013 Sermon, St. Andrew’s Lutheran Church