Easter is a spiritual reality, a spiritual gift. People approach it as if it is one more thing to do on a crowded calendar. “Does anyone want to get up tomorrow and go to watch the sunrise on Singing Beach?”, we query. We wait for an answer which will direct us to what we will do (or not do) on Easter.
Mary Magdalene goes to the tomb not for a miracle; she goes out of obligation. She goes to do what women do after a death, preserve a body, complete a burial. It is a “final thing” she must do before she gets on with her life.
She does not expect that she will encounter a “first thing” that will determine the rest of her life. No, for Mary, it is one more thing she must complete. She dresses appropriately for the ceremony she must perform. She remembers to pick up the spices, as is customary. She moves slowly as there is no rush, “Jesus isn’t going anywhere”, she thinks to herself.
Arriving for the ritual, Mary is confused. Things are not as they are supposed to be. Where is Jesus? What she sees is not what should be. The stone is moved; the grave is disturbed. There is no body to dress with spices. What is she supposed to do? Did she get up for nothing? Is this a waste of time?
“Why are you crying?” a voice asks. Mary pours out her disillusionment and pain. She is address personally, “Mary”. She turns to find Jesus standing before her. She has been in his presence all along but did not realize it, she could not feel it. She addresses him softly with a familiar name, “Teacher”. She barely contains herself.
Even today our church encounters people who believe their lives are coming to a sad, ‘final end’. They grieve the loss of people, dreams, hopes. They come to the Church painfully disillusioned for how life has treated them. They come out of obligation to find the church has hope of new life, new relationships.
Our gifts make Easter possible.
Our gifts bring abundant life.
Rev. John Hughes
(P.S. – the sun will come up tomorrow … Tell Everyone!)