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Sunday, April 8, 2012

My Lord, What a Morning


On this Easter Sunday morning, those of us who attended our annual house church's sunrise service met as usual at the entrance of what was once known as Massanutten Caverns, right next to the home of one of our members. We gathered around the locked steel door of the cave at our usual 8 am time, and since this is under the west side of Massanutten Peak, the sun actually comes up over the ridge at about that time.

Indeed, this morning the sun made its appearance almost exactly as our speaker Elly Nelson spoke the words “He is risen!” as a part of her Easter homily, one in which she inspired us to reflect on what the resurrection story should mean to all of us--that light is replacing darkness, life is overcoming death. That’s what the story celebrates.

It seemed fitting that we had a woman bear this witness this morning, since it was Mary, the mother of Jesus, and other women, not our Lord’s male followers, who first arrived on the scene, according to the gospel texts. It was only the women who exercised their courage to bring spices to apply to the body of their recently buried loved one.

No one knows how they expected to enter a guarded cave with a large stone rolled in front of it, not unlike the barred steel door of our cave, marked with the words, “This Cave is Protected by Virginia Law.” Perhaps they simply trusted God to take care of that detail.

I join them on this day in affirmation of the kind of the faith expressed by the seventeenth-century poet George Herbert:

  RISE heart ;  thy Lord is risen.  Sing his praise
                                        Without delayes,
    Who takes thee by the hand, that thou likewise
                                        With him mayst rise :
    That, as his death calcined thee to dust,
    His life may make thee gold, and much more just.

    Awake, my lute, and struggle for thy part
                                        With all thy art.
    The crosse taught all wood to resound his name
                                        Who bore the same.
    His stretched sinews taught all strings, what key
    Is best to celebrate this most high day.

    Consort both heart and lute, and twist a song
                                        Pleasant and long :
    Or since all music is but three parts vied,
                                        And multiplied ;
    O let thy blessed Spirit bear a part,
    And make up our defects with his sweet art.

            I got me flowers to straw thy way ;
            I got me boughs off many a tree :
            But thou wast up by break of day,
            And brought’st thy sweets along with thee.

            The Sunne arising in the East,
            Though he give light, and th’ East perfume ;
            If they should offer to contest
            With thy arising, they presume.

            Can there be any day but this,
            Though many sunnes to shine endeavour ?
            We count three hundred, but we misse :
            There is but one, and that one ever.
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