With the dawn of the risen sun we are invited into a time of new beginnings, of renewal, of the return of the light after even the darkest of nights. (Easter Dawn. John 20:1-18)
Mary’s story is our story in so many ways. She came expecting only the small comfort of being able to anoint and properly bury the one she thought was the answer to everything, her master, her teacher and her beloved companion.
The resurrection of her Lord dawns upon her slowly, one image, one insight at a time. First she sees someone but does not know who. And even when she hears his voice speaking her name and realises who it is it still takes time to process what has happened and longer still to unfold what it means. So too for us, it takes a life time to understand what this early morning sighting means for us, to allow the enormity of the resurrections to declare itself to us.
And so this morning especially, but all mornings, are an invitation to start over, to see yet more clearly, to begin anew.
It is the natural instinct of most us that having survived the long night of fear, lostness, closing down into oneself, that dawn is the invitation to begin again, to return to the seen world.
But this morning is an invitation to enter not only the familiar day time world but to enter a new day altogether. A day that is new not simply because it is a good or easy day but because the relationship between all things has changed, has been renewed, has been realigned by the resurrection of Jesus the Christ. This was the dawn of a new era, of a new age.
We divide the world into Before Christ and After his Death and although for very good reasons we now talk of a common era there is we believe a truth to that division of before the Christ and after his Death and resurrection.
Something fundamental to the way the world works shifted in his resurrection. The great cosmic cycle of life, death and new life became realized in the particular person of Jesus; the divide between human and divine collapsed; and the distinction between sacred and profane was rewritten in resurrected flesh.
So just as the first named person Adam expressed life and then death and then was gone from us, so now through the person of Jesus the Christ life was known fully and death did its worse but could not contain him and he returned in fullness and limitless love in a way that has entered into not only the hearts and minds of those who knew him in the flesh but also into our hearts and minds who discern him in spirit.
And so we are initiated through faith, through relationship and experience, through the sacrament of baptism, into life abundant and eternal.
While our lives are still as constrained by all the limits of this world and we are as vulnerable to ailment, aging, confusion and grief as any, we are initiated into the dawn of the soul, the budding of eternity, the flicker of unquenchable light and hope.
We need this experience of dawn, of the rising of the sun, so that we can be reminded of our true origins and our true destination. We need this ritual of lighting the candle that will flicker all year through so that we can be reminded of who we are and to whom we belong. We need this sensory reminder of what our souls intuit – that life is unquenchable, that love survives even death, and that joy and hope await us and call us forward.
This is a day of new beginnings and we give ourselves to the mystery of Easter.