Hymn: Christ Has Risen While Earth Slumbers Church Hymnary 4, 430
Christ has risen while earth slumbers, Christ has risen where hope died, as he said and as he promised, as we doubted and denied. Let the moon embrace the blessing; let the sun sustain the cheer; let the world confirm the rumour: Christ is risen, God is here!
Christ has risen for the people whom he died to love and save; Christ has risen for the women bringing flowers to grace his grave. Christ has risen for disciples huddled in an upper room. He whose word inspired creation is not be silenced by the tomb.
Christ has risen to companion former friends who fear the night, sensing loss and limitation where their faith had once burned bright. They bemoan what is no longer, they expect no hopeful sign till Christ ends their conversation, breaking bread and sharing wine.
Christ has risen and forever lives to challenge and to change all whose lives are stressed or damaged, all who find religion strange. Christ is risen. Christ is present making us what he has been — evidence of transformation in which God is known and seen.
John Bell set this hymn to the tune Transformation. It also works well to the truly foot-stomping Sacred Harp tune Holy Manna or the haunting Suo Gan
We all have our own faith rituals and traditions. For me, Easter is not really Easter unless I have gathered to worship with others, at some point in the early morning, outside. On such occasions while much of the world around is still slumbering, the words of this Easter hymn hold particular resonance for me.
It speaks to me of God’s quiet work of transformation that goes on, almost unnoticed, like the bulbs silently pushing through the earth one day to burst into flower.
It speaks to me of the hope that the light of Christ brings into the world, which seemed so fragile, even extinguished on Good Friday, yet now shines brightly with the dawn of a new day.
It speaks to me not just of an event which took place two thousand years ago when women went to the dress a grave, and former companions huddled in fear of the future, but of an event in which I share and participate every day.
‘Christ is risen, Christ is present, making us what he has been – evidence of transformation in which God is known and seen’. That gives me hope and courage in my own journey of discipleship, that others may come to know and see God through me, not because of my efforts but through the presence of the risen Christ with and within me.
Risen Christ, you are present with and within us, filling us with your transforming power. Make us willing partners in your work of transformation; shedding light in places of darkness offering hope to situations of despair creating peace amid communities of discord sharing love with everyone we encounter.
The Rev’d Lindsey Sanderson is minister of the East Kilbride and Hamilton Joint pastorate in the Synod of Scotland and a tutor at the Scottish United Reformed and Congregational College.