Easter Day 2011

Easter Day 2011 John 20:1-18

Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you looking for? Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.”

I love this Easter Gospel, so comic. Mistaken identity, the confusion and cross-purposes that arise from mistaken identity; it's all there as it is in many of Shakespeare's plots or comic operas.

There's Mary Magdalene early in the morning on the first day of the week coming to the tomb of Jesus. In my imagination she makes that walk in a slow, pensive way.

There's Mary Magdalene arriving at the tomb to find nothing as she expected. The stone that once sealed the entrance is cast aside.

There's Mary now at a full run, robes clutched about her to free her feet for her haste to reach Simon Peter and the other disciples.

Then there's another footrace back, Simon lagging behind but catching up to be the first to enter the tomb.

The sight of cast-aside graveclothes are enough for Simon and the other disciple to begin to grasp what this might mean in the light of Scriptures that speak of God's vindication of the just one.

They head for home. Mary remains, weeping. Her grief is compounded by her confusion. “What could have happened; what does this mean?”

Then there's the gardener there. Maybe he knows. He seems kind enough in his greeting: “Woman, why are you weeping?”

“Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.”

Things are not what they should be! She needs to fix things!

And here's the comedy and the joy of it. There's never been any way to tell Jesus what to do or fix him.

It was that way in life. He was always a step ahead of everyone else in his vision of things, his actions and words.

It was this wild freedom that propelled him to embrace the cross. If we could have stopped him, we certainly would have. People certainly tried.

God lives fully in Jesus. Always did, and does so now.

This is a whole new situation confronting Mary, and for all her running she's hasn't caught up with it yet.

And then the Gardener speaks, looking at her with love. “Mary!”

She's suddenly flooded with recognition. “Rabbouni!”

I imagine an embrace here, but it is brief.

Jesus says “Don't hold on to me”. Mary can let go of her need to fix things. There's nothing to be fixed. Fixing things puts things back the way they were.

This is about things as they've never been before.

We don't hold on to Jesus. He holds on to us.

We don't own him. He owns us, because he is the very Life of the World; the visible expression of the energy of God. He is God's right hand, and God is visibly known in his actions.

The Resurrection shows us that God is wild and free among us today, being bound by nothing, especially by death, the fear of death, the threat of death.

Jesus is out there, alive and doing very well. He's contained by no boundaries; certainly not Death. Because of this, he's everywhere.

We recognize him the same way people saw him in his life. In a world where death and decay are apparent, he's over it and in it and uncontrolled by it. He's always in the midst of the reconciling work, the mercy work, the work to make things right, to open up understanding and blow open the doors of endless possibilities.

And if we are raised with Christ, we join him where we recognize him and find him. And it dawns on us through a lifetime of faith: He really is risen!

If we are with Mary in the Garden, there's nothing needing fixing. God is making all things new.

Let's live it!

Image: "Christ Appearing to Mary Magdalene at the Empty Tomb". Artist unknown.http://www.livinglutheran.com/blog/2011/03/mary-magdalene.html