The Fire of our Night


All was dark.

Darker than dark, the sky seemed to even swallow sound in its mass. I stood by the lit up HBO add by my bus stop, waiting for the 5:17 bus to come my way, trying to remember why I was getting up this early. It’s a holiday, right? Don’t you rest on holidays? Why was I getting up extra early to go to a church service?

“Tony, you have to try this,” implored Beth. “It’s my favorite church time of the whole year.” Suspending the skepticism built up from previous “Sunrise Services” that I’ve experienced, I accept the invitation.

Nighttime TübeyBut as the alarm went off at 4:40 am, and I looked out at a world that would not taste sunrise for at least another 3 hours, I wasn’t quite sure why I had said yes. Couldn’t we just push the time back a few hours?

No, you can’t. Because while I may be from a tradition that celebrates “Sunrise Services” on Easter morning, that is not the worship practice of the German Protestant Church. This was no Sonneaufgang-Gottesdiesnt (Sunrise Service)… no, it was a Osternacht-Gottesdienst (Easter Night Service).

The ancient building where my church gathers was almost pitch black, the silhouettes of a few dozen early arrivals made visible only by the light of 3 well placed tea lights. Silence held us captive until the breaking notes of a four part harmony echoed through the stillness:

“Im Dunkel unsrer Nacht, entzünde das Feuer, das nie mehr verlischt.”

(In the darkness of our night, ignite the fire that will never be extinguished)


All was dark.

A scream breaks forth, the echoes of nightmares that haunt attempts at sleep. Evils of the past living in nighttime’s memory.

The tests come back, she’s not getting better. It’s months, maybe weeks.

Another day goes by and he still hasn’t left his apartment, the weight of fear like ropes around his lungs, constricting, choking. He’s dying of loneliness, but another series of rejection seems worse than such a death.

“Just keep going,” they say. “Morning is coming. It will get better.”


All was dark.

HohenzollernA few women go to a tomb, hoping to care one last time for one they hold so dear.

The sun would rise soon, but it was still dark, so they had to get closer to be sure of what they were seeing: Yes, the tomb was open! How? Why? Who?

They braved an entrance to find their friend was missing. All that’s left is a strange messenger conveying the unbelievable: You’re friend is not here.

“He was dead; now he’s alive.”


All was dark, yet the unbelievable happened.

It’s painted with colored eggs and pastel shirts. There is laughter and sunshine and strawberry shortcake. Hallelujah is her song, the sunrise her appointed time. The context of Easter is one of joy and light… and while there is much to be celebrated in her, that is not how the story goes.

Resurrection belongs to the Night.

Discovered in the morning’s light, but enacted in the darkest hour.

We don’t have to make it til daybreak. I don’t. You don’t. Life will come before then, it will break through in deepest night.

He did it once. He’ll do it again.

Im Dunkel unsrer Nacht, entzünde das Feuer, das nie mehr verlischt.


Still Wandering,



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