[Photo from the 5am Great Vigil of Easter at the Princeton University Chapel]
Jurgen Moltmann writes, in his book "In the End – the Beginning: The Life of Hope" the following:
"Yet his end became his true beginning. His public death was followed by Easter appearances…and with these appearances the new beginning was inaugurated…The disciples who had once fled then returned to Jerusalem and proclaimed publicly the raising of Christ from the dead and the open horizon of his sovereignty. This about-turn from disappointment to certainty and from deadly fear to a faith which is not afraid of death is the real proof of the reality of Christ’s resurrection…’The empty tomb’ itself is not a proof of Christ’s resurrection, for it could have been empty for a different reason, if the body had been removed by other people. It is the proclamation of the resurrection by the disciples in Jerusalem which is proof of the empty tomb…With Christ’s resurrection from the catastrophe of Golgotha the new beginning has already been made, a beginning which will never again pass away because it issues from the victory over transience." (46-48)
It took a great end to bring about a great, new beginning. It surely felt like a new beginning this morning, at least that something strange and mysterious was going on, as a group of 10 of us walked to the Princeton University Chapel at 4.45am. It was dark…we should all have been sleeping, but we couldn’t. Something was in the air…there was an excitement…we had heard the news but we wanting to know more…we wanted to hear and see for ourselves…
We met outside in the dark, smelling the incense, surrounded by others who had heard the news. The Paschal Candle was lit from the new fire and we all lit our own candles and processed into the cathedral-chapel. We entered, listened to the story of God from Creation, to the Flood, to Israel’s deliverance, to Salvation being offered to those living in the Valley of Dry Bones…we renewed our baptismal vows and began singing resurrection hymns. The powerful organ guided us through Jesus Christ is Risen Today, Welcome Happy Morning, Now the Green Blade Riseth and Hail Thee Festival Day. We were sitting on the left-hand side, and so we were able to see the light of day gently but strongly piercing through the stained-glass windows and give us hope of the coming morning, the good news of the resurrection.
While it wasn’t like celebrating Easter at the Ring of Brodgar, it was still a special morning for those of us who made the pilgrimage..
Easter. Resurrection. Hope. What does it all mean? What does it look like to be living and looking for the resurrection daily? A new beginning being birthed by what could appear to be an end. Have you seen this in your life? New beginnings birthed from ends…time when you thought the period was written, the story was done? What is Easter…and how have you seen the new beginnings in your life?