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A Resurrection Faith
A Resurrection Faith

Dawn’s Radiant Light

Thursday, April 4, 2024

Wake up from your sleep,  
rise from the dead,  
and Christ will shine on you.  
—Ephesians 5:14, Jerusalem Bible  

Father Richard reflects on the presence of light at the resurrection: 

At the resurrection, Jesus was revealed as the eternal and deathless Christ in embodied form. Basically, one circumscribed body of Jesus morphed into ubiquitous Light.Light is perhaps the best metaphor for Christ or God. Anything exposed by the light will be illuminated and anything illuminated turns into light (Ephesians 5:13–14). 

During the first six centuries of Christianity, the moment of Jesus’ resurrection was mostly deemed unpaintable or uncarvable. [1] The event is not even directly described in the New Testament. All we’re given are the aftermath stories—stunned guards, seated angels, visiting women, and other resurrections: “The tombs also were opened. And many bodies of those who had fallen asleep were raised up” (see Matthew 27:51–53). Note how resurrection was already corporately understood in this telling verse. 

Most of us, if we are paying attention, also have such resurrection moments in the middle of our lives, when “the veil parts” now and then. Jesus says, “Believe in the light so that you also may become children of the light” (John 12:36), letting us know that we participate in the same mystery, and he is here to aid the process. [2] 

Episcopal priest Becca Stevens writes of the hopeful message of the dawn’s light: 

The orange globe peeks above the horizon in bursts of resurrection each morning…. We can walk with the sunrise preaching, “Walk with hope in faith because love lives.” It’s not that we are more faithful than we are in the dark of night; it’s just that our pace is lighter. This translucent moment of clarity and hope is possible each day we do our work under that rising yellow force, or walk down a path at dawn humming a love song whose words are rising from our hearts…. When we walk with this pace, we have the shadow of the sun before us like a benediction with an aftertaste of joy that is true gratitude for every day we have been given….   

Sunrise calls women with grieving hearts to sing; it enables priests to be present for decades at the same altar, and paints each morning in colors so tender they turn stone hearts to flesh. Light means that we can live in hope, dedicated to justice and truth, knowing the light will never leave us. The light is ours for the beholding and allows us to make our song even at our own Easter morning, “Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia.”…  

Sunrise in the story of Easter is not just a time of day; it is a state of the heart. Sunrise is the space where nighttime fears move aside for hope, where we feel peace about our mortality in the scope of the universal truth that love abides and where we feel light crest the dark horizons of hearts we have kept barricaded. [3]  

[1] See John Dominic Crossan and Sarah Sexton Crossan, Resurrecting Easter: How the West Lost and the East Kept the Original Easter Vision (San Francisco, CA: HarperOne, 2018), 57–59.  

[2] Adapted from Richard Rohr, The Universal Christ: How a Forgotten Reality Can Change Everything We See, Hope for, and Believe (New York: Convergent, 2019, 2021), 176, 177.  

[3] Becca Stevens, Letters from the Farm: A Simple Path for a Deeper Spiritual Life (New York: Morehouse Publishing, 2015), 24–25, 29. 

Image credit: Jenna Keiper, Untitled (detail), Washington, 2020, photograph, used with permission. Click here to enlarge image. The first rays of sun caressing our faces remind us of the importance of new beginnings, of waiting, of awe. 

Story from Our Community:  

At Christmas, I decorated a fir tree with many gleaming ornaments. At the time, I was challenged with a cancer diagnosis and the fir tree came to symbolize resilience and long life despite the bleak winter weather. I am now beginning to put Easter decorations on that same tree. It’s giving me signs of spring with hope of new growth and beginnings. Looking at this tree inspires me to reflect on the vulnerability of baby Jesus, the symbol of Jesus on the cross, my own journey with cancer—all with the hope of the resurrection. —Frances B. 

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