Liz Curtis Higgs
"One Holy Morning"
“Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb …” John 20:1 (NIV)
Long before daylight touched the sky, a trombone choir crept along the deserted sidewalks of Main Street, gently nudging the sleeping town awake. Each step drew them closer to the historic church square, where they would form a semicircle, point their instruments toward heaven and herald the dawn of another Resurrection Day.
I tossed aside my bedcovers, eager to get going. “He is risen!”
“He is risen, indeed!” my husband mumbled, though I heard the smile behind his words.
Our two teenagers appeared, bleary-eyed. “This better be worth it, Mom.”
It would be.
We dressed in a hurry, then joined dozens of worshipers assembled on the church lawn. Many had their hands tucked under their arms for warmth, like robins poking their bills beneath their wings.
When the final trombone note floated across the square, my husband shepherded our family through the narrow, wooden doors of the church. We settled into a pew near the front and exchanged glances, our eyes moist. Almost time.
Two thousand years ago, Mary Magdalene ran through the streets of Jerusalem “while it was still dark” (John 20:1), seeking the One who called Himself light. But He was not there. The tomb was empty. As two angels looked on, Mary Magdalene wept. She didn’t grasp the truth of His resurrection until He spoke her name: “Mary” (John 20:16).
The Lord speaks our names as well, in the depths of our hearts. He calls us to see Him as He truly is: risen, victorious, eternal. He calls us to believe, to leave the darkness of doubt behind and step into the light of His truth.
That Easter morning, my family and I sat up straighter as John’s Gospel was read aloud, the words washing over us like a shower, scrubbing us clean. Out of the corner of my eye, I watched my teenagers listen more intently than usual. The greatest story ever told, the one that never gets old: the Son of God, risen from the dead.
We’d heard His story before, but we needed to hear it again. To be reminded.
My son elbowed me. “When do we go to the cemetery?”
“Soon,” I promised. It was the highlight of our sunrise service, that solemn walk to God’s Acre — the hallowed field where those who’d fallen asleep in the Lord in centuries past were laid to rest.
When the brief service in the sanctuary ended, we left the stained-glass walls behind and moved out into the damp morning. Trombones and trumpets and French horns echoed across the church parking lot as we walked toward the graves.
Flat, plain stones — so old the engravings were worn smooth — pressed down upon the spongy earth. We enclosed them in a human square, facing due east in anticipation.
I realized that nothing was going to actually happen among these graves. I was not Mary Magdalene, and this was not the first Easter. Oh, but it felt like it.
We’d sung His praises and spoken His name. Now we stood, transformed among the tombs, as we watched the sky above us slowly brighten.
On that sacred morning long ago, Mary Magdalene couldn’t keep the good news to herself. She went to the disciples, just as Jesus had commanded her, and told them, “I have seen the Lord!” (John 20:18).
He urges all of us who love Him to do the same. To tell everyone who will listen, “The Lord is alive. He is real. And here’s how much He loves you.”
Dear God, thank You for the resurrection of Your Son, Jesus. We want to celebrate Him every day of our lives. In a world that grows increasingly dark, help us hold up His light. Give us the courage to speak as boldly as Mary Magdalene did, and never be ashamed of proclaiming Your Good News. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
TRUTH FOR TODAY:
John 8:12, “When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, ‘I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.’” (NIV)
2 Corinthians 4:6, “For God, who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’ made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ.” (NIV)