Thursday, April 17, 2014

The Rising of the Son

There's nothing like a sunrise over the water. Even better is seeing a sunrise over the water while clutching a fishing pole with the sound of soft sloshing of water and the feel of the gentle roll of the waves under a boat.  I don't exactly know why it is so exciting to feel the almost imperceptible nudge of a fish inspecting the bait at the end of the line but I know it is.  Then when that nudge becomes an unmistakable tug of a creature that has inhaled the bait, the adrenaline rush is on.  There's a frantic pull as the fish attempts to flee from the threat and when impeded by the fishing rod, there's a shake as the fish thrashes about trying to free itself from the hook in its mouth. This resistance pattern repeats itself over and over again until the exhausted creature finally relents and presents itself at the surface beside the boat.  I don't know that it is possible to ever get enough of that contest with the creatures of the deep but I know I never seem to get enough.  After releasing the fish or better yet detaining him for a dinner meeting later, the thing I most want to do is to put more bait on the hook and get it back in the water.  Perhaps the best thing about fishing is that there is no such thing as a bad day of fishing.  Even when you catch nothing or the big one gets away or you fall in the stream and fill your waders with cold river water, its still a pretty good day. 

During the week before Easter, called "Passion Week" by many, I am  mindful of another sunrise. Nearly 2,000 years ago a group of women made their way up a steep rocky trail just as the sky above the Mount of Olives just east of Jerusalem in Israel began to turn a creamsickle orange.  They each had the knot of grief in their stomachs as they made their way somberly toward their destination.  It had been a difficult weekend to say the least.  Their teacher, a man named Jesus, whom they believed to be God's Messiah, had been arrested, tried and crucified.  His body had been rushed to a borrowed grave so the Jewish leaders could celebrate their Passover Feast in peace.  It had been painful to eat the Passover meal where they were supposed to remember how God had delivered them all the while feeling the opposite.  It seemed that God had abandoned them.  How could something that had seemed so right have gone so wrong?  Still, they had a job to do.  The body of the Lord had not been properly prepared for burial because there had not been enough time so they were on a mission to administer the aromatic herbs and spices to show their final respects before closing the tomb for good.  What a surprise they received.  Instead of finding a cold, dark, closed tomb they found the entry way open, a large stone having been removed and angels illuminating the whole area by their brightness.  They were told that their Lord, this Jesus, was actually quite alive after God raised him from the dead.  I can only imagine the incredible celebration among these women and the other disciples of Christ as they realized this truth.

Only later did his disciples grasp the enormous gravity of the resurrection.  They began to realize that his death and resurrection were a part of God's plan of salvation for all who would receive it.  They realized and told the world that through the death and resurrection of Christ we have hope.  Death no longer has any victory over us.  The oppressive finality of death has been lifted and the hope of living for eternity has been realized.  This changed everything.  It changed how Christians lived when they know they don't "just go around once".  It changed how they faced death seeing it as a new beginning rather than an end. It changed how they grieved the loss of loved ones knowing that just as they would see Jesus face to face one day, so would they see those who have gone before.

I hope that the next time I watch the sun rise I am holding that fishing pole and waiting for any sign that a finned friend has shown some interest in what I am offering.  I hope too that I will again be reminded in the rising sun and start of a new day that God has given me new life in Jesus.  He has given me hope eternal in his resurrection and he has shown me his eternal love through the mercy and grace offered at the cross. I may have bad days here on earth but I know that with God's love and mercy surrounding me, every day is still a pretty good day.