One shivering man, watching the light pour over the horizon, standing in the presence of God...
God’s initiative in Jesus comes full circle: God’s love and kindness will shine upon us like the sun that rises in the sky. On those who live in the dark shadow of death this light will shine to guide us into a life of peace. (Luke 1:78-79)
JESUS = SPECTACULAR! I can’t think of a better image for Resurrection Morning than the most spectacular sunrise I have ever seen. If I hadn’t been in Egypt on that cold January morning, waiting on top of Mount Sinai, the idea “spectacular sunrise” would have a different meaning.
Christ’s victory over death has to be as far away from what most of us could possibly imagine as seeing the sun rise from the top of Mt. Sinai is from the standard dawn most people reference when they come across the word that describes the moment the sun reappears in the east and begins to light a new day.
I’ve retold my “sunrise from Sinai” story almost every time I’ve been out speaking since we got back from the Middle East. It’s a great story as a stand-alone, but it works even better when I talk about REACHING TOWARD EASTER.
Here comes the sun
POINT: Here’s my main point. In order for me to witness the sunrise from the top of Mount Sinai, I had to – first – accomplish the following:
Go to Egypt -
Drive into the heart of the Sinai peninsular -
Wake up at 1:00 in the morning -
Walk to St. Catherine’s Monastery -
Secure a camel from one of the Bedouin herders -
Survive the camel ride up several thousand feet -
Climb the remaining mile or so to the summit -
Do all this before 6:00, when the sun rose.
With eyes wide open
Bottom line, I didn’t have this amazing experience, one that has helped me understand why God said to Moses, “Get up early in the morning and meet me on the mountain” (Exodus 24), while sitting in my easy chair sipping coffee. No way! I couldn’t have even vaguely understood what this quality of sunrise might possibly be like until I had done steps #s 1-8 above.
HE IS RISEN! Easter Morning is more awesome than the most spectacular sunrise I have ever witnessed. Yet I’m not going to be in a position to apprehend the astounding depth and breadth of that reality until I first prepare my heart and my mind to receive the King!
Reaching Toward Easter
Here’s a paragraph from the introduction of my book REACHING TOWARD EASTER. It’s also pasted on the back cover:
We can “enter [God's] gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise” (Psalm 100:4) with the quality of renewed spiritual energy that comes in response to the sacred rhythms of daily observance. Easter celebrates the victory of light over darkness and the reality of the kingdom Christ invites us to explore.
Love Wins. Light Wins. Faith Wins. Light is going to break in on the shadow of death and guide all of us into a life of peace. Hallelujah and Amen! - DEREK