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An Easter Meditation

Sunrise at Shiprock, New Mexico, 2019. Copyright © Michael D. Warden. All rights reserved.

Years ago I wrote a song that I called "Lord of the Morning." I used to live in an apartment with a big bay window facing East, and I would awaken most mornings before dawn, make my coffee, and huddle up under a blanket on the sofa and watch the wonder unfold. It amazed me, and continues to now, how each morning's art is different. No two alike, from the first sunrise on earth to this very morning, as I sit writing these words, awaiting the sun. How can a God, however vast his means, paint billions of sunrises morn after morn, and make them all equally glorious in their own unique way? What kind of God would do that?

Watching this morning art session always had the effect of making me feel loved—in part because I reasoned that if God cared so much about the artful and unique crafting of each sunrise, how much more he must care about the artful and unique crafting of each human soul...and in part because there is wisdom in the sun's rising that whispers truths to the quiet spirit that the busy mind can only guess at, as one might guess at the source of a sweet scent caught briefly on the breeze.

You are Lord God King of the Morning Arise and sing O Earth to the Lord your God My song will rise and awaken the morning For the Lord of the morning He is good

I arise today to awaken the dawn, as I have so many times. But today is not like the rest...not just unique; the most unique. Not just artful; the most artful. This is Easter morn, and the Son is about to rise over the whole earth, victorious, King, Lord of the sun and every soul on whom its warmth depends.

Do you remember the old bluesy spiritual that asks, "Were you there when they crucified my Lord?" The song offers the question as an invitation to imagine yourself in that place in time with Jesus, watching the crucifixion unfold, watching him die. But you can also take the question literally. And the answer is yes.

I was there. We were all there. Everything in me that falls short of God's highest dream for the world, everything in me that hates and judges and demands my own way to the hurt of others and my own true heart, was there.

He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. — 2 Corinthians 5:21

Whose sin did Christ become? It was mine. I was there. I killed the Christ. You were there too. On him. In him. Through him. We all were. The death of Jesus bonds us all in a common fallenness. We have no room any longer to judge one another. We have all committed murder. We have, all of us together, killed God.

But the story does not end there. Christ rose. He rises today. I believe that God, in the form of a man, literally and bodily rose from the dead, and in so doing, invited us into a new kind of extraordinary life, a life that heals all that is wounded inside us all, a life that overcomes death in all its myriad forms. A life that he offers to everyone. It is the very thing we've all hoped for, the very gift our broken hearts would most hope our Artist God, painter of billions of glorious dawns, maker of billions of beautiful souls, would give. And he has given it.

That's what Easter is-—a celebration of the gift of this new life that God offers us all. I have become a student of this life, and it has changed everything...because it has changed me. His love, his gift, his art in me, makes me whole.

For the love of Christ controls us, having concluded this, that one died for all, therefore all died; and He died for all, so that they who live might no longer live for themselves, but for Him who died and rose again on their behalf...Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come. — 2 Corinthians 5:14-17

It is a new dawn. Easter Morn. May the Son rise in you this day in a way you have never known before.

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