Sunday, April 24, 2011
An Unusual Witness
Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the tomb. So she ran and went to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved, and said to them, "They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him." Then Peter and the other disciple set out and went toward the tomb. The two were running together, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. He bent down to look in and saw the linen wrappings lying there, but he did not go in. Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb. He saw the linen wrappings lying there,and the cloth that had been on Jesus' head, not lying with the linen wrappings but rolled up in a place by itself. Then the other disciple, who reached the tomb first, also went in, and he saw and believed: for as yet they did not understand the scripture, that he must rise from the dead. Then the disciples returned to their homes. But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb; and she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had been lying, one at the head and the other at the feet. They said to her, "Woman, why are you weeping?" She said to them, "They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him." When she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to her, "Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you looking for?" Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, "Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away." Jesus said to her, "Mary!" She turned and said to him in Hebrew,"Rabbou'ni!" (which means Teacher). Jesus said to her, "Do not hold on to me, because I have not yet ascended to the Father. But go to my brothers and say to them, "I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.'" Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, "I have seen the Lord"; and she told them that he had said these things to her. John 20:1-18
Some days can surprise you. We put a few plants in the garden and then it started to rain so we quit until the weather got better. The predictions were for several days of rain and wind and so we made no plans for watering. This morning dawned warm and beautiful, as if we had changed seasons over night. Easter morning in Cape May County was gorgeous, picture perfect without a cloud in sight. We weren't prepared for what we have seen or felt. Nobody was dressed right - it was too warm for all the clothes we had set out. We had to change our plans on a moments notice to respond to the changing world.
Mary Magdalene went out, early in the morning, sad and weary with her arms full of traditional spices and flowers to honor her dead friend. She carried her sadness, knowing what to expect, the tomb, the cold stone barring her from her dear friend, and the Roman guards who would block her way. She had a plan for how to deal with it all. And everything was different than she had expected. She was overwhelmed by grief. This broken woman who had been healed and befriended by Jesus was witness to an incredible miracle. So unlikely was she to meet him face to face resurrected. She was a woman, of low birth, who had lived a rough life outside of the faithful community. And yet it was her, broken and weeping who saw him first, and told the story of his miraculous resurrection to so many. The spirit of God broke through a;; the plans and expectations and gave her a gift of love she would never forget.
Today, as we celebrate this Easter, may we remember that the Resurrection came to the most unlikely, the broken and the undeserving - God gave them a sight of love and new life that transformed them and the world forever. May we, no matter how broken, unworthy or unlikely we might feel, God is bringing new life to us, bringing healing and resurrection in the darkest gardens and the loneliest streets.