It's the evening of a beautiful Easter Sunday as I write. And I must admit being surprised.
My surprise is nothing compared to the amazement of Mary Magdalene and those with her who very "early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark," went to the tomb, found the stone rolled away, and heard the angel's sensible question, "Why do you look for the living among the dead?" and then the universe-changing proclamation, "He is not here; he has risen!"
It was not angels that awakened me at 4:30 this Easter morning; it was the sound of a mighty wind. Not a Pentecost wind–just wind with brown grit in it.
On Easter Saturday, a gorgeous day, I'd been burning tumbleweeds (souvenirs from the last windy blast) in the fire pit in our back yard. I hear that people in New York City will pay good money for tumbleweeds. (Scary what happens to your mind when you stay in the big city too long.) I burned about a million dollars' worth.
As the sun went down, I dragged my chair nearer to the pit, drank coffee, and soaked in the warmth of nicely glowing embers and a
beautiful day. My wife's making her annual springtime threat of loading our fireplace with candles. It will soon be purely decorative again. (Spring can be depressing.) I was enjoying the good fire.
But fire in the pit is good, and outside it, not so much. So at the right time I followed all of Smokey the Bear's wise advice and turned the fire pit into a swimming pool. I wet it down with more water than was reasonable. Stirred it. Wet it again. Shoveled around to douse any hot spots, and hosed it down some more.
At 4:30 a.m., not an hour I care to witness even on Easter, the sound of wind jarred me awake. An Easter eastern sunrise is one thing, but I had a paranoid vision of a fire-induced glow out in the west, say in the vicinity of my backyard. I trudged out the back door, and, in the midst of cold wind and flying dirt, hosed down the pit one more time. Then, retreating inside, I pulled up the covers and faded away thinking depressing thoughts about a sunrise service speeding down the tracks and about to squash me with more cold wind and airborne real estate.
Fast forward. Yes, it was a little breezy and cool at the sunrise service, but not bad at all. And the rest of Easter Sunday? Every hourseemed more beautiful.
This is where you should remind me that even if we'd had to endure a world-class dust storm on this Easter Sunday, God's power would be no less real and the Resurrection no less filled with hope. Our faith is centered not on the weather but on the Lord of the universe.
Easter means that even if trouble's winds are howling and Satan's throwing dirt at us, we can always have hope. And the same God who once commanded, "Peace! Be still!" seems to absolutely delight in surprising us yet again with his beauty and joy, right when we've given up on seeing them.
Nobody expected that stone to be rolled away either.
Curtis Shelburne is pastor of 16th & Ave. D. Church of Christ in Muleshoe. Contact him at