Archive: Son-Rise

An Easter morning experience

By Barbara Mary Johnson Chatsworth, CA

Bright red caught my eye through the gray morning haze. As I bicycled past the duck pond, the road turned due east, and in the space between mountain and foothill appeared a startling, pulsating wedge of red. What was it?

Quickly my mind reviewed the possibilities: a red van, a firetruck, a flying saucer. The fact that I was pedaling to the Easter Sunrise Service should have given me a clue. Yet I didn’t know—at least right away—that, yes, it was the sun. The sun was peeking over the horizon.

I laughed to myself as I coasted down the little slope in the road toward the dawn. The excitement of the glorious sunrise overcame the numbness of my cold fingers and any sleepy regrets about leaving my warm bed so early. “Christ is risen,” my heart sang as I inhaled the awakening breeze of daybreak. I wanted to shout to the world, “Christ is risen!” but there was no one around. I yearned for someone to answer, “He is, indeed.”

In earlier days Christians didn’t wish each other “Happy Easter.” Instead Christians greeted one another with, “Christ is risen,” and were answered, “He is, indeed.” What a meaningful custom, I thought, as I turned past a horse ranch and looked for people to greet. But there were none, even the horses were in their sheds. As my route passed a residential area, I saw a woman walking her dog. I wanted to shout to her the great truth of the day: “Christ is risen!” But she and her black Scotty turned into their driveway before I could reach them.

I came to a deserted intersection and waited at the traffic light as one car approached. The fogged-up windows made it hard to see the faces of the people inside. I pedaled to the rhythm of my Easter greeting: “Christ is risen. He is, indeed.”

The last few blocks of my ride were crowded with cars slowing down, turning and parking. Soon I was in the midst of fellow worshipers carrying lap robes and blankets to the outdoor service. “Christ· is risen,” I said to a man getting out of his car.

“What?” he answered.

As I locked my bike, I spoke to a child examining my helmet and rearview mirror, “Christ is risen.”

“Yeah,” he said and shyly turned away.

The usher gave me a bulletin. “Christ is risen,” I said. He nodded and replied, “Good morning.”

By now the sun was completely visible, not as startling as it had seemed earlier. But my mind kept repeating the Easter message as the service began. Following the printed program, the minister said, “Christ is risen.”

“He is, indeed,” was the satisfying answer from the worshipers.

Knowing that Christ is risen, I thought, is something like knowing that the sun will rise every day. We are no longer surprised by the resurrection, not any more than we are by the morning light. We know that Christ is risen. We’ve read it in the Bible, heard sermons and songs about it, and viewed the resurrection scene in all forms of art. We also know the sun will appear; the newspapers even tell us exactly what time each day. We don’t always have to be told about Christ’s resurrection. We know that Christ is risen.

But what a surprise when the reality hits us. “What is it?” we ask, just as I did when I was startled by the actuality of the rising sun. What is it? Christ’s resurrection catches us up in its mystery and wonder to make every day Easter.

Yet some people don’t understand our message and reply, “What?” Others misinterpret, like the usher who blandly answered, “Good morning.” The child who turned away wasn’t ready. Perhaps we all live in a deserted world resembling the quiet landscape I had pedaled through earlier in the morning. Maybe people turn off, literally and figuratively, before we can reach them, just as the woman did who was walking her dog. Sometimes we’re greeted with fogged-up eyes and minds, like car windows through which we cannot see.

This Easter sing it out: “He is risen!” He is, indeed!


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