Christ is alive! Alleluia! God’s steadfast love endures forever. Often we enter the Easter story with a very fresh awareness of pain and suffering in our daily lives. In the empty tombs of our lives – death, job loss, stress and worry – it’s difficult to see beyond the tears and grief to the radical hope found in God’s love.
Yet there is hope beyond our imagining, according to the text of John 20:1–18. Mary goes to the tomb and is shocked to find the stone removed. John plays with the imagery of darkness, from absence to presence, from mystery to knowing.
Mary travels to the tomb where Jesus is completely absent; there is no body for Jesus' followers and friends to visit and grieve. Shock and urgency move Mary to seek Peter and the disciple whom Jesus loved. Tradition identifies him to be John the son of Zebedee and the author of this book). Mary's fears have form – “they have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we don’t know where they have laid him.” She calls Jesus “the Lord” which is the first occurrence in this gospel. Mary's grief is raw; resurrection is the last thing on her mind.
Meanwhile Peter and the other disciple run to the tomb. They see and believe that something has happened. But what? They don't wait to find out.
Mary remains outside the tomb weeping. Jesus asks her about the meaning of her tears, and she sees him not as her Lord, but as the gardener. The truth breaks through when Mary hears Jesus speaking her name. Perhaps that is how our faith is awakened: the risen Christ speaks our names, calling us out of the darkness and into the light.
An Easter Prayer
God of radical hope, you meet us in the garden of our daily lives. You help us to tend hearts that are broken, love that is lost, hope needing resurrection. Give us an encounter that springs joy, shines love and light as we meet Christ today. Amen.
Adapted from Seasons of the Spirit SeasonsFusion Lent - Easter 2018