It was early on Easter morning. I was standing at Fort Revere with some Congregation members for the Sunrise Service. It was quiet but not still as the wind was blowing at quite a clip. Looking to the east, the sun was just starting to peek through the clouds, and it turned the sky a brilliant orange. Looking back toward the west, the Moon was still noticeable in the early morning sky in all of its full splendor.
There are places on earth that are considered thin places. Those places where earth and heaven are so close together that the veil between them, that point of separation, becomes very thin. There are places on earth that are always thin places, like the holy island of Iona off the coast of Scotland. And then there are other places where the thinness occurs at certain times of the year. As we stood in the glow of moonlight and the rising sun, I felt that, for that moment, that place had become a thin place. That space between earth and heaven had become very close.
We stood there on the top of that hill, taking it all in. The sun was struggling to peak out through the clouds that had provided the rain the night before. The sun’s rays were stretching out their arms of warmth while the Moon was still visible on the other side. The two great lights were not competing with each other but instead working in tandem to remind us of the hope of the day.
I reminded those in attendance that this year three of the world’s religions, Islam, Judaism, and Christianity, would celebrate their holiest seasons at the same time. It was, of course, Easter Sunday, but it was also the Second Day of Passover and the Holy Month of Ramadan. It is not often that all three come at the same time, but it served as a reminder of the closeness of the three.
The three feasts are about hope. It has not been easy to have hope these days. The pandemic, although lessening, is still part of our lives. In addition, there is economic uncertainty, and there is a war raging in Europe. So, it is understandable if people are having difficulty believing in hope.
Easter is the annual remembrance of hope, hope in things uncertain. The Apostles had just watched their friend die, and they were trying to come to grips with what they had just witnessed. They had gone to the tomb only to find it empty, yet another thing to try and figure out. Later that night, the Scriptures tell us they were locked in a room, and Jesus appeared before them. He bids them peace and tells them that everything will be okay. Very slowly, their hope is restored.
So, there we were, early on Easter morning, standing on the top of that hill, watching the sun come up and the promise of a new day. And each new day brings a sense of hope.
The Rev. Dr. Peter-Michael Preble is Pastor of St. Nicholas United Methodist Church in Hull, Massachusetts and the Bereavement Coordinator with the Brockton Visiting Nurse Association. Follow him on Twitter @FrPeterPreble
Submitted by the Rev. Dr. Peter-Michael Preble