Easter Dawn 2009 at the beach with Deer Park Community Presbyterian Church
To You ... I am a Story
Jane: Hi Doug, what a beautiful morning - the sun is just rising with the ocean in front of us. I can just feel the peace and joy of this beautiful earth God has given us.
Doug: I wish I could be like you, Jane ... always observing and appreciating the good of the world. I guess you are one of those glass half filled people.
Jane: What do you mean, half full?
Doug: You know - one of those people who see the world in terms of its goodness and beauty rather than its problems and uncertainties. Others, who focus on problems ... they are the glass half emptied people.
Jane: Well, I guess its better to be half full than half empty but I like to think of myself as completely filled with the joy of life. That's what happens when I allow God to be in charge of my life. Doug, I thought you felt the same way I do.
Doug: I used to feel that way. Just a week ago, as I hiked around Belmont Park ... I remember singing to myself , "For the beauty of the earth, for the beauty of the skies, Lord above to thee we raise, this our hymn of grateful praise". It was beautiful day and I felt at peace. But today ... I don't know ... today I'm one of those half empty people. How come you always see the bright side of things?
Jane: Because this world God made for us is filled with beautiful things. Why shouldn't we enjoy them ... Now, Doug ... what's this really all about?
Doug: Well ... you remember last Fall, when I had no idea where to apply for college and one day my guidance counselor called me in and suggested Fairfield. She said, "It's just right for you ... have some faith ... look into it". Dad took me on a visit and I loved it. There's a great campus, a good theatre program.
Jane: So ... that's great. You did get accepted there, you told me.
Doug: That's the point. I got accepted and was really looking forward to going. Even just a week ago mom, dad and I were making plans for another campus visit. Then ... last night ...
Jane: What happened last night?
Doug: Mom and Dad spoke with me and said that there will have to be a change in plans. You see, without warning; I mean he had no idea that it was going to happen ... dad got laid off from work. My mom and dad say that they are very sorry but there is no way they can pay for Fairfield - even with financial aid. So it looks like Suffolk Community for me. You know, I was sure God had it in His plans for me to go to Fairfield. I really did believe that and I donít know why God let this lay off thing happen? (Doug and Jane step back.)
(John and James step forward.)
John: Why do you look upset, brother? It is a beautiful, peaceful day. Come, let us, as the dawn breaks, go to the sea. Our catch today will be good.
James: I also feel optimistic about today's catch, John, and I am sure we will have a good day ... but there's one thing that I just can't get it out of my head.
John: What is that, James?
James: I keep thinking about when we were simple fishermen and only fishermen. We were satisfied with our lives and then the Master came and called us to be fishers of men. I didn't know what he meant at the time.
John: I, too, was confused.
James: But we left and followed him. It was such a joyful time. I loved it when he healed the sick and his stories just filled my heart with hope. I was convinced Jesus was the Messiah and that he was going to lead our country back to being the special Kingdom of God it once was. It was a beautiful time. Then, without warning, I mean we had no idea that something like this would happen ... he is gone.
John: I know, brother ... just think how popular Jesus was just a week ago, when we entered Jerusalem. The people proclaimed him to be a King and now seven days later he is dead.James: John, why do you think God let this happen? I just feel like my faith has been squeezed out of me, like I am only half filled with the joy I once felt when Jesus was with us.
John: James, do you remember when he said, "Can you not stay awake for even a few moments while I pray." He had been teaching that we must each take time to become in tune with God's will for our lives. Later that night ... it sent chills up my spin ... when I heard him call out to God, "My Father, if you can, take this burden from me. Nevertheless, not my will but thine be done."
James: John. Do you think he knew what was going to happen?
John: I think so and he let it happen. Why? I'm not sure but, like you, there are certain things I can't forget, like when he kept insisting that each of us, on our own, needs to get in tune with God. Those teachings have been on my mind these last three days. Somehow I think he was saying that we could not depend on him forever. We need to, each of us, turn to God and ask for direction. (They step back.)
Jane: Doug, I know something like this can be a challenge to your faith. You said you felt like God led you to Fairfield. But really wasn't it your guidance counselor that suggested it and you simply went along with the suggestion. Did you actually pray about it? Did you ask God, yourself, if this was the right school for you?
Doug: No, I must admit that I did not. I guess it is time to ask God for guidance. (They kneel to pray.)
James: John, I guess it is time for us to ask God to give us strength to see us through this time of doubt and weakness. (They kneel to pray.)
Woman (approaches): James and John ... Doug and Jane ... I have good news.
John: Who are you?
Woman: To you, James and John, I am as real as each of you are. I was one of several women who went to the tomb this morning. To you, Doug and Jane, I am a story. But as real as I am to James and John, my story is real to you, Jesus' disciples in 2009.
Doug: So what is your story? And why do you come to us today?
Woman: I speak to you because all four of you just knelt in prayer and asked for God's help. Doug, you asked God for guidance and you, James and John, asked God for strength, so God has sent me to say to all four of you ... "He is risen".
All four: Who?
Woman: Why Jesus ... our friend, Jesus. Like Lazarus, who he brought out of the grave, Jesus has conquered death.
James: How do you know?
Woman: I saw him. At first I thought he was a landscaper, cleaning around the tomb, but he called me by my name and I knew it was him.
Woman: I know it is hard to believe but trust me, I wouldn't take the time to tell the story if it was not true.
Jane: So ... what does this all mean?
Woman: It means Jesus has conquered death and that, with God's help, we can each conquer many things.
John: Like our doubts and fears. James, don't you see ... Jesus is still with us. We can overcome our fear.
Doug: And I can conquer my disappointment.
Woman: and that is what joy is all about - there is a beautiful world God has made for us to live in and enjoy and, when are freed from fear and disappointment, we are ready to let the joy of God's creation fill our hearts.
Doug: And I will change from one of those "glass half empty" people to "glass half filled".
Jane: or, perhaps, totally filled.
James: And I will change from a man filled with doubt and fear to a man motivated by faith and joy.
Woman: Let us sing with our hearts, free from fear and disappointment and filled with the joy of the Lord this blessed morning.
[All sing hymn, "For the Beauty of the Earth"]
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