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Lenten Reflections: It’s All True

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Women in white circle a church in Sudan. (Margie Nea)

Sunday, March 31, 2012
Easter Sunday

Lectionary reading:

John 20:1-18

By Miriam Dewhurst

In John’s account of the first Easter morning, Mary Magdalene comes to the tomb first and when she sees that the stone has been rolled away, she runs to Peter and John and says to them, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb and we don’t know where they have put him!” Peter and John run to the tomb, enter and see the empty burial cloths, and go home.

But Mary stands outside the tomb, crying.  When she looks into the tomb, she sees two angels sitting where Jesus’ body had been.  The angels ask Mary why she is crying.  She says, “They have taken my Lord away and I don’t know where they have put him.”  As Mary turns away, she sees Jesus, whom she mistakes for the gardener, and again voices her overriding concern.  “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will get him.”  We can all identify with Mary.  We have all experienced a time when love mingled with grief or anxiety resulted in a single-mindedness that blotted out everything else.  Did Mary even realize she was speaking to angels?  And why did she see them when Peter and John did not? 

“Mary.”  That moment of recognition must always come as a shock.  Mary can only say, “Rabboni!”  And later, to the disciples, presumably now gathered to discuss what Peter and John had seen, “I have seen the Lord.”  These are the moments when the world changed. God had done something so big, so powerful, so real that those experiencing it could only wonder, and witness.

True story:  Many years ago, an Episcopal priest, rector of a church in Darien, Conn., learned from a young couple in his congregation that the husband had cancer. The cancer went into remission and some time later the couple moved to Lyon, France. A few years later, shortly before Christmas, the priest received a call from the wife, letting him know that the cancer had returned and her husband was dying. As he hung up the phone, the priest had a strong feeling that he should visit this man, but he was rector and it was Christmas and his daughters would be home from school for the holidays. He did check with the airlines for the cost of three round trip tickets to Paris. A day or two later, the priest received a check in the mail for the precise amount of the plane tickets, to the penny, with a note that he was to use the money for himself and not for the church. So the day after Christmas, the priest and his daughters boarded a flight for Paris. Near the end of the flight a problem occurred in Paris that caused the plane to be diverted to Lyon. The priest and his daughters were able to deplane in Lyon and they went immediately to the man’s house. The priest had not told the couple that he was coming and so when the wife opened the door, she was shocked. All day her husband had been telling her that the priest was coming, but she had thought he was delirious. When the priest walked into the man’s bedroom, the man looked up at him, smiled and said, “Now I know that it’s all true … and I am so happy!”

“I have seen the Lord!” says Mary. “Now I know that it’s all true,” says a man near death.  Most of us have not had experiences as powerful as these, but thanks to these witnesses, we, too, can believe.  Christ is risen!  Christ is risen indeed!  Happy Easter!

Prayer:  Lord God, today and everyday, help us to remember that it’s all true.  Amen

Miriam Dewhurst is a member of New York Avenue Presbyterian Church, in Washington, D.C. This post is reprinted, with permission,  from NYAPC's 2013 Lenten Meditations booklet.

 

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