Easter – some of us have heard the Easter “story” too often maybe and it has lost its thrill – like a t-shirt that has faded, so the message is still readable but it does not stand out. Can we recover it and make it sparkle again?!
We know the “ending” but for a moment can we put ourselves in the sandals of Mary, desperate, disconsolate, hoping she might be able to tend the body of the man she so loved and admired, but who had been brutally killed. We have seen pictures of Ukrainians tending a rough grave – that could have been Mary. This is a woman who is grieving, whose heart hurts.
The men did not expect anything – they were back at the house – they had to be summoned. But when they came, something began to dawn on one of the disciples – the grave-cloths were lying as if a body had risen through them. It seems that they may have decided Jesus was raised, but the men went “home” or more probably to their place of lodging.
And then we get one of the great “but”s of the Bible. The men had seen something and maybe had understood something. BUT Mary, Mary remained and in her grief and in her tears, and in the half-light of morning, she sees someone, maybe the gardener, maybe he knows where the body has been put.
And then she hears – she hears her name called by what must be Jesus, and suddenly she knows, she knows this is Jesus; not just that the Resurrection is true, but she has met the risen Jesus and he has met her.
And Jesus does not let her stay, but sends her out to tell the disciples, to pass on the good news; she must risk not seeing him again. She has not had long with him, she has so many questions, no wonder she wants to hold him. But he sends her away with a message and a task.
Again put yourself in the sandals of Mary, John and Peter have been to the tomb, they have then left. How will her message be received? Might it be a trick of the light? – it is after all dawn.
And so for us, who have heard the story many times.
I notice the difference between the men who believe and make some sense of it and Mary who has an actual encounter with Jesus. I hope our faith is based not just on the truth (though how important that is when we feel wobbly), but also on an encounter with God through his Spirit, even if that is only fleeting, and we now get on with the tasks we are given to share this good news. Let us pray for an encounter with God, not just an engagement with the story.
I notice too that sharing this good news is risky – there is not much to back it up; Mary would have much preferred to have stayed with Jesus in the garden. How will we share the truth, the wonder, the good news of Resurrection with others?
I notice too that the deepest experience is given to the one who was weeping. May the risen Jesus be particularly close to those who struggle and suffer at the moment. Christ is risen, Christ is alive, Christ is with us. Alleluia!