Monday, March 24, 2008

Easter Sunrise

I went to a sunrise Easter service out at a ranch that belongs to some members of our church. The house is situated near the edge of high ridge overlooking a valley or maybe it is a canyon. Down in the distance, you can see deer browsing in the grass or wild hogs rooting around. From the back yard where we sat, the sun was coming up directly before us. A large wooden cross was in the middle of the yard. The pastor stood near it.

The ranch owners’ grown daughter told us a story about how she had a plan when she was nine years old, to go to town. It was cold, and she was angry and barefooted, but she was determined to get to town to find her mother, who had left her with her older sister for a few minutes to run an errand. Her plan was thwarted, of course, before she got very far down the road; someone called police, and they came and got her before something awful could happen to her. God has a plan, she said. His plan is dependable, unlike hers, based on love.

We sang a few songs and we had communion. Birdsong filled the air. It was cold, but the March wind was fairly still. I was happy to be there with all those people I love, praising God for his amazing love and his plan, based on love.

His plan is surprising in its simplicity. I used to think I had to work my way to him, that I couldn’t deserve his love. But I was surprised to learn that his love is free; I don’t have to work for it or deserve it. It is a gift. This is the surprise of Easter. He is risen, and he lives, not as a worldly king, but as the son of God, the one who leads us freely to his father through love. I want to live my life in the surprise of Easter.

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