This season as I read the familiar accounts of the resurrection, my attention was drawn to the phrase, “Early on Sunday morning…” in each gospel. I recalled a very special early morning many years ago when I understood the meaning of Jesus’ resurrection for the first time. Jesus did not appear to me as he did for Mary Magdalene that morning of his resurrection, but I am sure I was just as amazed and forever changed. It was a time when I was wrestling with some important questions about life and faith. I was staying at a house in the desert and woke up just as the sun was coming up over the hills. It was the most glorious sunrise I had ever seen. I felt a peace and a presence at the moment and a complete assurance of Jesus’ love.
There is something about Jesus’ resurrection taking place early in the morning that is more than just a coincidence or a convenient moment. The word “morning” in scripture seems to hold a particular significance. In Mark 1:35, we read that Jesus himself rose early in the morning to pray. A few other beautiful and encouraging verses:
His mercies never come to an end. They are new every morning. Lamentations 3:23
Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes in the morning. Psalms 30:5
Let me hear in the morning of your steadfast love, for in you I trust. Psalms 143:8
Morning by morning he awakens me and opens my understanding to his will. Isaiah 50:4
I am not a morning person, but in the stillness of the early morning, I sense those new mercies, the gift of joy can be found once again, I am filled with hope for the new day. Jesus waits for us each morning to give us a fresh, new vision for the day ahead as well as for our lives. His resurrection power continues. He is risen indeed!
(c) 2015 Diana Beaudry
December 6 is the Feast of St. Nicholas, a 4th century bishop in the Roman province of Lycia. In America, we have come to know him as Santa Claus. Richard John Neuhaus, in his Advent meditation in the book, God With Us, tells us more about the real St. Nicholas. According to tradition, he was a holy and compassionate man, who used the generous inheritance he had received from his parents to help those in need. One legend tells of his generosity to a family who was destitute. He tossed three bags of gold into an open window (or down the chimney in some versions), thereby helping them out of poverty.
Jesus came to deliver us from our spiritual poverty by giving us the most wonderful gift of eternal and abundant life. As we celebrate his birth this year, let us pray that we will have the eyes to see and the ears to hear where we can be like St. Nicholas to those in our communities and in our own families.
As I John 4:9 & 11 tell us, “God showed how much he loved us by sending his one and only son into the world so that we might have eternal life through him. Dear friends, since God loved us that much we surely ought to love each other.”
November is the time of Thanksgiving, a time we want to cultivate a grateful heart. In the class I am currently taking in ministry I learned a great way to do this. In discussing the healing ministry of Jesus, the professor asked, “do we see miracles today?” The class was fairly quiet as we pictured Jesus’ miracles that caused the blind to see and the dead to rise and tried to relate those to today.
Then he said, “what if we use the word “wonders” to describe what Jesus did? Where do we see wonders today?” We realized we see wonders everywhere: in nature, in the love of families, in people who have gone through heartbreaking situations and are now living joyful new lives, formerly rebellious teens who are now living responsible, productive lives, people changed through faith, the loyalty of our pets, music and art, creative moments. The list can keep growing the more we think about.
Take a moment right now to reflect on where you have seen wonders recently. Take time to thank God for them. Looking for wonders, for the many generous gifts that come across our path, can change the way we look at our lives.