"At Early Dawn"
On the first day of the week, at early dawn, the women who had come with Jesus from Galilee came to the tomb. Luke 24:1
I have been known to overthink things.
How about you?
We have been singing the song, ‘Guide my Feet’ and posting pictures on Facebook and on the front cover of our announcement sheets. Each time we sang, each picture we posted, each cover we printed was a request. We were asking God to guide us, as a community, as families, as individuals.
So where were we asking Him to take us?
Was it into a renewed vision of Transfiguration as a community of faithful service? Was it to guide us as individuals through the rocky places of a difficult life transition? Was it into some new understanding of faith? Where were we asking God to guide us? And what is more important to me on this Tuesday afternoon in mid-Lent when I have a ton of deadlines to hit: how are we going to turn that into a theme for Easter!?
Well, like I said, I can overthink things. When I sat down to read the Easter Gospel I found it right there in the first line. There were some women who were grieving the loss of Jesus. They did not know what to do next, so they did what a wise friend and Alcoholics Anonymous retreat leader once told me. In their agitation and doubt they asked God to give them, ‘the next right thought and show them the next right action.’
It turns out their next thought was to try and embalm Jesus, to show his mortal remains compassion and care. Forget the fact that there was a stone in the way, forget that his body was under guard, forget that it was impossible. Just do the next right thing. So guided by God they set their feet on the path to the tomb, ‘on the first day of the week, at early dawn’. How wonderful and pregnant with meaning is that phrase? They were about to walk into the unknown, on a new day, at the start of a new week, at dawn.
During this Lent I found myself getting up regularly before dawn and going for a walk during which
I would pray. I didn’t realize it was a pattern until halfway through Lent, it just felt right. I would pray for all of you, and pray for guidance in my role as priest and in my life in general. At first getting up before dawn and going out was an accident, then after a while it became a practice. I would want to see that sunrise and contemplate the start of a new day just as the day was beginning.
During Lent we have also been talking about how to celebrate our vigil service on Easter Day and I realized that I just had a yearning to fulfill the words of that Gospel and gather with anyone who was willing ‘on the first day of the week, at early dawn.’
Where have I found God guiding my feet? Into the dawn, into hopefulness, into beginnings, into life. I have walked with some of you who were in pain during this season, some of you are grieving, some of you are searching for faith, some of you are uncertain about the future. A few of you even got up to walk with me at dawn. So welcome to the path that God has led us on together. Join me at dawn this Easter, if you can, and if not physically then join me in the metaphorical dawn that the text guides us to. Let’s walk into a new day together.
From the UK, Matthew loved US culture from the first time he picked up a Fantastic Four Comic when he was 12.