11 Mary stood outside near the tomb, crying. As she cried, she bent down to look into the tomb. 12 She saw two angels dressed in white, seated where the body of Jesus had been, one at the head and one at the foot. 13 The angels asked her, “Woman, why are you crying?”
She replied, “They have taken away my Lord, and I don’t know where they’ve put him.” 14 As soon as she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she didn’t know it was Jesus.
15 Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you crying? Who are you looking for?”
Thinking he was the gardener, she replied, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him and I will get him.”
16 Jesus said to her, “Mary.”
She turned and said to him in Aramaic, “Rabbouni” (which means Teacher).
17 Jesus said to her, “Don’t hold on to me, for I haven’t yet gone up to my Father. Go to my brothers and sisters and tell them, ‘I’m going up to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’”
18 Mary Magdalene left and announced to the disciples, “I’ve seen the Lord.” Then she told them what he said to her.
John 20:1-18 CEB
Rev. Melissa Fain
No one wanted order more than myself. As a child, I would order my candy by color, eating all the odd colors first, so everything was even and neat. When I directed camps I organized to the nth degree. If plan A didn’t work, I had plans going up to E. Maybe it was my childhood that made me so worried about the possible chaos. My step-dad was an abusive alcoholic, and family issues were complicated by divorce and neglect. Keeping and understanding order had to have been my life preserver in a continually rocky sea.
Overall, it is in our nature to limit and draw lines. After all, we were created from the chaos. Our very being was given order, and understanding the limits to that order gives us a sense of calm. Sometimes, our desire to order life, causes us to draw lines between who is in and who is out. The biggest scandal of the cross, is Christ died for all. In such a chaotic way, Christ brings the ultimate order to Salvation. Christ died for you, for me, for the homeless crack addict off Peachtree St, the pious saint who goes to church every Sunday, those who would murder, those who would rather die than hurt someone else. Christ died for all. Christ died for all sides, and all types.
Jesus died for the Gentile, like the woman at the well. Jesus died for the Pharisee, like Nicodemus. The moment we begin labeling the people Jesus didn’t die for, they become the very people Jesus died for. Like, Jesus choosing someone who wasn’t one of the twelve, a woman, to be the first person to preach the resurrection of the Lord. We may draw lines and limit what we can do. Meanwhile, God can do anything. Jesus died for all.
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Jesus Christ, son of the living God, have mercy on me a sinner. Thank you for your grace and forgiveness. Thank you for your inclusion and love. In your new life, we gain new life too. It is so true. You are Lord. Amen.
Melissa is an ordained minister in the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). She has a BA in Music from Kennesaw State University and a Masters of Divinity from Candler School of Theology at Emory University. She is currently the senior minister at Fig Tree Christian. Melissa is the mother of two wonderful children, and wife to a great and supportive husband. In her spare time she loves arts and crafts which includes making costumes from scratch, and knotted bracelets.
John 20:1-18 CEB
What happens when your leader, your teacher, your Messiah is killed? All the anticipation of what Jesus was capable of doing and it happened: he was crucified. The disciples were in a scary place. The people had called for blood and their thirst was not yet quenched. They did the only reasonable thing they could think of, they hid.
Then there was Mary.
On the day after the Sabbath, waiting the customary time period before visiting a dead loved one Mary began her trip to Jesus’ tomb in the pre-morning light. She couldn’t wait any longer. It was time to say goodbye. That was the strength of her love for the savior. Fear, or lack of sunlight, was not going to keep her away.
We are afraid to attach too much love to Mary Magdalene because our idea of love has implications. It is difficult to see it for what it was on that Sunday morning. Mary’s love was a deep devotion and self-sacrifice. She was putting her life at risk just to say goodbye. And what did she find? In the gray morning light she discovers no guards keeping watch, and the sealed tomb had been opened! Fearing some robber or perhaps the guards themselves had taken the body to inflict more punishment on it, she ran to the disciples Jesus was closest to: John and Peter. They go and see but give no comfort to Mary. She remains behind weeping.
Tears have magical properties. I bet you never knew that. I don’t mean supernatural magical properties. I mean magic in a way that magic actually exists, to trick us. To make us see something else instead of reality. Tears can literally warp our vision keeping us from seeing the whole truth. Tears can also keep our souls from seeing reality. This was true for Mary. We can say that love had blinded her but it was her preconceived ideas regarding the open tomb she was really blinded to. She had taken the most logical option to an open tomb and fell into depression. (Logically, the body had been stolen.) So, in the presence of angels she is not fearful or in awe because her tears had played a magic trick and she could not see the divine presence through the salty river covering her eyes. She could not see God’s awesome miracle beyond what she believed to be true. Even when Jesus stands before her she is still in the grip of the magic trick.
Have you ever heard the term ‘sunlight is the best disinfectant?’ I wish to take that one step further, S-O-N, Sonlight is the best disinfectant. Mary, even if it was only for a couple of hours, was not living in the truth. She was in the darkness. The truth was glorious and unbelievable! “Mary.” Just by saying her name her tears stop and the truth becomes clear- her savior lives! I believe it was her deep love that made her the first to share the resurrection story. While the other disciples hid, she yelled the truth, “I have seen the Lord!” While the others questioned, she accepted. Shout it from the mountain tops. Sing it in the streets. There is nothing to hide from. There is nothing to be ashamed of. Today we celebrate. Today we rejoice. Our savior lives!