Notes for Easter: Readings are here.
Garden – early morning – before sunrise – gray dark matching the feelings in her heart and mind
All hope dashed – gone
It is like that time when you felt it was the end of hope –the turning away or betrayal by someone you thought was a friend, the diagnosis of a possibly terminal disease, death of a beloved, loss of job, realizing you will not fulfill the promise of your youth. Who has not had times when all hope seemed gone, when there is no going back to the joy of what once was?
This is Mary – her beloved Rabbi, the one who healed her of all that kept her from living fully and joyfully. Gone, dead, in the tomb, over. The End.
Tears streak her face as she carries the spices and oils for a last act of devotion.
Then the shock of the empty tomb. Heart stopping shock. Bewilderment, panic, who? What? where?
And now a gardener – echoing that long ago Garden when God walked in our midst in Eden – but all she sees is some one who might have an answer to her confusion. She cries out to the man with her questions. No answer only her name. Mary.
And oh the joy – it is Jesus – the beloved one – the one who makes all things whole and right and good. Yes even in this moment of joyous reunion – a warning – do not cling to me. Tears threaten – are you just a dream – only a trick of my mind? But no – it is really Jesus but now more than the one who walked the earth for those short few years – showing us that we cannot go back – we cannot cling to what has been – there is no life there.
It is in the next steps that true resurrection happens for Mary. Resuscitation is trying to blow life back into the old way of being – a walking death – resurrection is living in the truth of now. We cannot go back – back to the days before events of death, loss, youth – but God is beckoning us on into the future – trusting that is the way to true life.
As Mary Magdalene takes in this new way of being – Jesus sends her out to tell the others.
Bearing the news like a burning torch through the darkness of their days – she flings open the locked doors of their hearts with “I have seen the Lord” –
Have we grasped this truth? The truth that life awaits us today and tomorrow Or are we still sitting in fear and grief and loss – wishing for what cannot be – blind to what can be?
This morning we sang the hymn:
Now the green blade rises from the buried grain,
Wheat that in dark earth many days has lain;
Love lives again, that with the dead has been;
Love is come again like wheat arising green.
When our hearts are wintry, grieving, or in pain,
Your touch can call us back to life again,
Fields of our hearts that dead and bare have been;
Love is come again like wheat arising green.
Shed the husk of yourself – that hard shell that surrounds you – allow yourself to stretch and grow into the life to which Christ is calling. Allow yourself to be tender.
Wendell Berry says in the Poem Manifesto: the mad farmer liberation front
So, friends, every day do something
that won't compute. Love the Lord.
Love the world. Work for nothing.
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it.
Ask the questions that have no answers.
Invest in the millenium. Plant sequoias.
Say that your main crop is the forest
that you did not plant,
that you will not live to harvest.
(I had a friend with whom I would have tea, she was in her 90s and quite blind, one day she said come and see what I have done in my backyard. And so we went and I saw 2 little fruit trees. She said - my friends think I am crazy as I will not live to see them fruit nor will I even see the flowers bloom - -but I say others will and I will have the satisfaction of that knowledge.)
Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful
though you have considered all the facts.
So go seeking the wild God -- the one who will not stay in the safe places, behind locked doors or locked hearts. Where? At the meals we serve in the parish hall or at the food bank to help people stretch their budget. Wherever people work for peace or justice. Where there is compassion and love in the midst of sorrow and despair. In the AA and NA groups meeting in our hall. Here in church sharing the bread and wine, body and blood of Christ - risky business - touching the holy - taking it into ourselves that we might return to the world. For God is the source of our life and the way of life and the journey's end - God beckons us on - standing in the future - calling you beloved.