I’m always amazed that the miracle of Easter took place in the dark with no one watching. The women went to the tomb while it was still dark on that first Easter morning, but the miracle had already happened. They went to the tomb expecting to tend to the body of Jesus but instead met an angel of the Lord whose “appearance was like lightning, and his clothing white as snow.” They went to the tomb heavy with grief but rushed away from the tomb with joy and wonder. They went to the tomb expecting to encounter death but instead came face-to-face with life.
This morning, as we bask in the light of Easter joy, I want us to back up and remember that the miracle took place in the dark. The resurrection took place while the people were still grieving. The new life of Easter day burst forth during the deepest part of the night. I want us to linger here for a moment because this world is a tough place. On Good Friday, those of us who gathered here for worship nailed our laments to the cross, and there were many of them. I imagine if we did the same exercise today, each of us would have a pile of laments to leave at the feet of Jesus. This world can be a shadowy place, and we might struggle to believe that the good news of resurrection, the splendid reality of Easter light, is true or even possible in a world so filled with night.
When we are overwhelmed with the seemingly unending struggles of the world, we might find comfort in knowing that the miracle of resurrection took place at the darkest time of the night. By the time the women noticed the first light of the new day, Jesus was already risen.
As we continue our sermon series through the psalms, I want to zoom in on the first half of Psalm 118:27. In the Hebrew, the first half of this verse is only three words long: “El YHWH vay-ya-er.” God the Lord has given us light, or as the New Revised Standard Version translates it, “ The Lord is God, and he has given us light.” I want to take in the beauty of this promise for just a moment.
The Lord is God. In the Hebrew, this is just two words: the basic word for “God” and the specific word for the God of Israel, the name God revealed to Moses from the burning bush. The Lord is God. When we are going through difficulties, when it feels like the world is falling apart, none of those other powers are God. The pain does not have the last word. The brokenness does not win. It will not stay night forever, because the Lord is God. The God who created everything we see, and everything we can’t see, will not abandon us or leave us hopeless. Because the Lord is God, we can have confidence that good will win out. Death cannot defeat life.
The Lord is God, and he has given us light. Or as 1 John 1:5 puts it, “This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light and in him there is no darkness at all.” God has given us light by giving us himself. Into this world of shadows and trouble, God the source of all light chose to become human, walk among us, and offer his life for us so that every one of us would have light to see by.
Have you ever been in complete darkness? How did it feel? Once, when I was probably in middle school, I had gone down into our creepy basement to get something. I went down the stairs and then into a room with no windows. Suddenly, the electricity went out, and I was in complete darkness. I panicked. I couldn’t see anything, not even my hand in front of my face. Even when my eyes adjusted, I still couldn’t see. I fumbled for the doorknob and opened the door of the room where I stood. One single stream of light came in through the basement window. The solitary ray of light illuminated everything. It was enough.
The Lord is God, and he has given us light. Friends, the vast, amazing love of God was too much for the world, and rather than asking God to enlarge our hearts to be able to receive it, we killed the Lord of life. But the Lord is God, and he has given us light. In the darkest part of the night, the miracle showed up, and that ray of light urges us to draw closer, to walk with Jesus, and to offer all of who we are to God. The light of resurrection transforms all of our shadowy places into places where new life is possible.
I want to leave you with this poem by Malcom Guite called “Easter Dawn.” May this poem help you to see God’s welcoming and warm light and invite you into its healing and transformational power.
He blesses every love that weeps and grieves
And now he blesses hers who stood and wept
And would not be consoled, or leave her love’s
Last touching place, but watched as low light crept
Up from the east. A sound behind her stirs
A scatter of bright birdsong through the air.
She turns, but cannot focus through her tears,
Or recognize the Gardener standing there.
She hardly hears his gentle question ‘Why,
Why are you weeping?’, or sees the play of light
That brightens as she chokes out her reply,
‘They took my love away, my day is night.’
And then she hears her name, she hears Love say
The Word that turns her night, and ours, to Day.