The cross of Good Friday and Easter heralds dawn of new day

COFFEE WITH WARREN, with Warren Harbeck
Cochrane Eagle, April 13, 2017

text superimposed: The dawn of a new day

The cross atop All Saints Anglican Church at sunrise inspires Easter reflection on moving from darkness to light. Photo by Warren Harbeck

The words by the former slave trader, John Newton, traverse the seas of time and echo off untold hearts: “Amazing grace – how sweet the sound – / That saved a wretch like me! / I once was lost but now am found, / Was blind but now I see.”

“Blind but now I see”? A century earlier his hymn-writer predecessor, Isaac Watts, understood it as light breaking through the darkness of history and the human heart: “At the cross, at the cross where I first saw the light,  / And the burden of my heart rolled away….”

These old-time gospel favourites came vividly to mind at dawn some years ago. The cross atop Cochrane’s All Saints Anglican Church was embraced by the glow of sunrise ushering in a new day.

How profound, I thought! But a “new day” from what to what?

I compiled a list of how I see the cross of Good Friday and Easter being the dawn of a new day as it leads humanity from darkness to light, both collectively and individually:

From darkness to light; from blindness to sight; from shadow to reality; from lost to found; from brokenness to wholeness; from despair to hope; from hate to love; from exclusion to inclusion; from strangers to friends; from legalistic attitude to grace-filled gratitude.

Grace-filled gratitude? That certainly seems to be the experience of contemporary poet and longtime coffee companion Gary James Smith. Gary was living in Champion, southeast of Calgary, when I first met him at Cochrane’s Outhouse Races nearly ten years ago. He was visiting family at the time, but ever since then he’s been visiting my Inbox with his heartfelt poetry.

Many of his poems allude very personally to the dawn of a new day in his own life beneath the cross of Jesus. I’ll close with quotes from three of them:

O cross of Calvary You've blessed
Beyond all recognition
I am redeemed, set free, forgiven!

When it dawned on me
The Resurrection
My stone was rolled away
My heart once hardened by sin’s degradation
Had its final day
It flung open, Light came in
I knew I was forgiven.

His heart is filled with deep compassion
He has mercy and grace for you
This message comes from heaven above
The old rugged cross is still new.
That is why I love my Saviour
He knows me through and through
Knows the day I believed on Jesus
The old rugged cross is still new
Ask me of my faith and religion
I'll give you my point of view
I've trusted the Lord Jesus Christ as my Saviour
The old rugged cross is still new.

In a recent email to me, Gary reaffirmed his passion for proclaiming his gratitude to God for “giving us a blessed hope and wonderful way of living.” Yes! Thank you, Gary, for sharing with us your delight in the dawn of this new day at the foot of the cross. Happy Easter!


© 2017 Warren Harbeck

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