One of my absolute, very favorite moments of the year during my time in Murfreesboro happened every Easter Sunday at about 5:30 in the morning. Throughout Lent, a large cross stood on the lawn in front of the church, similar to the one we have out on Randolph Road. (Many thanks to Al Traver, Connie Carpenter, Sid Carpenter, and Rocky Cannon for making that happen this year!) For most of the season, the cross would be draped in purple. On Good Friday, the color changed to black, a somber sign to the world that Jesus was dead and buried, crucified as a sacrifice for our sins.
But then, early on Sunday—while it was still dark, no cars on Main Street, no lights on in any of the homes between my house and the church, everything so still and strangely quiet in that just-before-dawn sort of way—I got to go take the black drape off that cross and replace it with a white one. I always felt like I was the first person in town to find out that Jesus—who was dead and buried—had now been raised to new life by the power of God. Nobody else had heard the news yet because they were all still in bed. I was the only one who knew.
Man, I treasured those moments there before sunrise, standing in the cool, dewy grass, jacket zipped up against the early morning chill, alone with the good news that Jesus is alive. I always imagined this was—on a much smaller, less dramatic scale—something akin to what it must’ve felt like to be at the tomb before dawn, with those faithful women who’d come to honor Jesus, only to discover that the one they were looking for had been resurrected and was on his way to Galilee. In those frantic minutes between hearing this good news at the empty tomb and sharing this good news with the disciples back in town, these women were indeed the only people in the world who knew that Jesus was alive.
Chances are, you’ll run into people on Monday, April 17, who’ll have no idea that Jesus is alive. Maybe they’ll see our cross out on Randolph Road as they drive by going to work, but they’ll have no idea what that white drape signifies. They’ll have no idea what resurrection even means, much less how resurrection might possibly apply to their own lives. Hopefully, when these folks ask you what you did over the weekend, you’ll have something to say, because the good news
of resurrection really isn’t just for those of us who got there early.