This was the message for the Easter Sunrise Service at Tompkins Corners UMC on 11 April 2004 – I used Deuteronomy 34: 1 – 4 and Mark 16: 1 – 8 as the Scriptures.
I don’t think that First Easter morning was any different from any other morning. At least for the disciples it wasn’t; of course, the only difference that morning was that Jesus was dead and the men in the group were hiding in fear of their lives. Peter surely must have been alone with his thoughts that morning, knowing that three days before he had denied Christ, not once but three times. And this denial was made even worse because Christ had said that he would do it.
So Peter must have really been alone that morning, fearful that he would be arrested and angry at least with himself that he had denied the man whom he had followed for three years.
The women who had followed Christ through His entire ministry knew what they had to do. It had been late on Friday when Christ had died and his body had not been properly prepared for burial. There was nothing they could do on Saturday so it was imperative that they get to the tomb. Then they would have to figure out some way to roll back the stone in front of the tomb and convince any guards or security personal there that they meant no harm and only wanted to do what needed to be. So it was a Sunday morning just like any other Sunday morning, except that Christ had died.
And that made all the difference; because, when the women got to the tomb, the tomb was empty. And all the rules, all the expectations for the world changed in that brief moment. Because the tomb was empty and Christ had risen from the dead. Over the next few days, Christ is going to appear to all the disciples, in settings that defy understanding or reason. In just a few days, He is going to remove all the doubt that anyone had concerning the resurrection.
So the day was not like any other day, nor has any day since that day been like those before it. Christ’s resurrection, Christ’s triumph over death tells us that there is more to life than the normal expectations. And the rules and expectations that governed life until that day no longer apply.
We start this morning knowing that Christ is alive, that the tomb is empty and that death no longer triumphs over life. We start this day knowing that the rules have changed and that things long sought impossible can be accomplished. Christ’s resurrection tells us that there is new life, that there is new hope in each day.
That morning started off like countless mornings before it but it did not end like the days before. A new life began that day some two thousand years ago and we are here this morning celebrating Christ’s resurrection because of what happened that morning.