Once Upon an Early Easter Morning

Saturday evening, when the Sabbath ended, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome went out and purchased burial spices so they could anoint Jesus’ body. Very early on Sunday morning, just at sunrise, they went to the tomb. —Mark 16:1-2 NLT

We never wanted to get up on Easter morning. No matter how excited we might be about eventual Easter baskets and jellybean hunts, our morning always started in the middle of the night—at least that’s the way it seemed to us. My sister and brothers and I would all be snuggled deep down in soft blankets and quilts, heads pillowed, with slumber heavy upon us. We would be drugged with sleep when the shaking of our shoulders came.

My mother would have prepared our sunrise service clothes the night before. No Easter dresses or suits and ties for us just yet. We were quickly wrestled (or wrestled ourselves depending on our varied ages) into warm pants, sweaters, and coats. Often in Massachusetts, hats and mittens would also be needed. Shoes were tied or maybe boots tugged on feet and off we’d go to the station wagon squinting in the darkness, still stumbling with the last remnants of our dreams persisting in our minds.

My parents would talk softly together and then include us in the conversation as we neared the beach where our church always held sunrise service, rain or shine. (Yes, sometimes we stood there in a rainy drizzle.) My mother would start reminding us of the greatest Story of all. How Jesus died for us and was buried, His body placed in a dark, cold tomb. (We’d look at the dark outside the car and feel the chill.) Then she and our dad would remind us of the great miracle of resurrection that came with the dawning of the first day of the week. The day we now call Sunday. That we were going to celebrate the grand victory of a death turned to everlasting life as Jesus rose again and paved the way for us to do the same. This was the reason for the predawn summons from bed.

Our eyes would widen, and we’d begin to sense the excitement of it all. We’d exit the car and the wonder built with every family, every person, who joined us at that dark, cold beach. We’d huddle together and shiver, most years waiting for the dawn with a great crowd of worshipers quiet in anticipation mixed with a lingering weariness. But that was all a part of it. Our pastor would tell us the Story, and then the singing would begin. Sometimes that included instruments, even triumphant trumpets, to help us celebrate.

And every year, even in the years of drizzle, dawn would come. The sky would lighten and brighten. The waves became visible with their endless lapping of the shore back and forth and back again. As the day grew lighter so did our hearts. All of a sudden my siblings and I were transformed from sleepy and reluctant little worshipers to triumphant shouters of song. We caught the excitement from the adults around us and sensed somehow the sacrifice each had made to rise before dawn, dress, and be here even though sleep beckoned. Out of sacrifice—that little one of given-up sleep and comfort to that great big massive one of giving up a life on behalf of others—came abundant laughing, shouting, and massive joy. We zinged with it! We laughed! We shouted! And after the service we danced along the beach with victorious little feet thoroughly awakened to the glory of the day and the Story. The wonderful, true, best Story of all.

So this Easter, friend, even in the midst of a pandemic, let’s set the alarm for 4:30 a.m. or whatever ridiculous time we need to in order to watch the dark give way to light. Let’s tell the Story again to our children or our spouse or our cat or to ourselves right there in our own homes. Let’s remember that once upon a real time in history, our God entered human flesh and walked forward in sacrifice to an excruciating death, taking on Himself the punishment for wickedness that we all deserve. And … here’s the thrilling thing. He Did Not Stay Dead. We serve a living Savior, and if that’s not worth the small sacrifice of sleep loss to celebrate, I don’t know what is.

No matter where you are on planet Earth this Easter … day will break that morning for you too. Celebrate and rejoice in the faithful, loving, selfless God who died for us and ushered in eternal Life for all who believe. That can be done socially isolated … just fine. And the great Story is just as true in the middle of a pandemic as it ever was. The great Story always, always … is.

Dear Lord Jesus, thank You for eternal life. Thank You for taking death, our enemy, and defeating it soundly and utterly for all time. As the dawn breaks, dear Lord, may we shout with joy and honor You on Easter morning with song no matter where we are or how isolated we feel. For You are with us. Always. How we Praise Your Name! Amen.

Have a blessed Easter morning, friends!

You are loved,



Sweet Selah Ministries

To inspire a movement away from the belief that “busy is better”
and toward the truth of God’s Word that stillness and knowing Him
matter most—and will be reflected in more effective work and service

To offer biblical resources and retreats that help women pause (Selah)
and love God more deeply as they know Him more intimately (Sweet)

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4 Comments. Leave new

  • Margharet Fowler
    April 6, 2020 8:38 pm

    What precious memories and so glad you still remember all the little details. Above all, so glad you and the other children know Jesus as our Saviour and risen Lord. May God bless each one of you this Easter.

    • Sharon Gamble
      April 6, 2020 8:40 pm

      Thank you, Mummy. And thanks for making Easter so special for us children all those years ago. Wonderful memories, indeed!

  • Precious memories and such triumphant joy we can
    know because Jesus has conquered our universal
    enemy of death…He Is Risen! Praise God!

    • Sharon Gamble
      April 7, 2020 11:46 pm

      Oh Esther … YES! “triumphant joy.” There is no day like Easter. It stands alone as the highest of days in my opinion. 🙂
      He is Risen Indeed.
      Love you,


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