Sunday, April 9, 2023

No Room at the Beach

I tried to go the Easter Sunrise service today. I really did. I got up at 5:50 AM, took a shower and drove to the beach, arriving a half hour before the outdoor worship service was scheduled to begin. I thought that would be early enough. It wasn’t. Hundreds of other people had the same idea earlier than I did. By the time we arrived, there was no room at the beach. There was not a parking space to be found.

It felt like the “no room at the inn” Christmas story all over again. The main beach parking lot was full. So were the lots further away. So were every space along the streets. We drove up and down the narrow streets for another twenty minutes looking for any available parking spaces. Many other vehicles were doing the same thing. By then it was drizzling, and the wind was picking up (gusts up to 20 mph), so we headed back to our rented condo.

We walked out to our own completely deserted beach, and arrived at exactly the time of sunrise: 7:05. There was no sun to be seen because of the clouds (as you can tell from the photo.) The waves were crashing and the wind was blowing. Yet my wife and I sang Easter hymns, read the Easter story from the Gospel of John, and shouted to the winds, “Christ is risen!”

It was one of the nicest sunrise services ever. We realized that if we had been sitting in our lawn chairs a few miles down the beach, huddled in our sweatshirts against the wind, with sand blowing in our faces, surrounded by hundreds of people, amps blaring, singing religious pop songs we did not know, unable to hear what was being said, we would have been miserable.

Yet at our own beach we were worshipping the risen Christ with joy.  It was an Alleluia moment. If I had thought of it, I would have read the gospel story of the risen Christ having breakfast at the beach with a few of his disciples. That is what it felt like. Spiritual food for Easter-loving souls. Following our service we went to the only restaurant nearby that was open and had a pancake breakfast. Plus we were there early enough to beat the Easter crowd!

It just goes to show that things always turn out the way they should, even though it doesn’t seem so at the time. It is all a matter of whether we can see it. That is what the story of Easter is about. Friday was a disaster for the early followers of Jesus. Saturday was depressing. Sunday dawned with tears and fears. But as Sunday progressed a greater truth was revealed. It was simply a matter of whether his followers had eyes to see and ears to hear. It is the same this Easter. Christ is risen indeed.

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