* Jeremiah 31:1-6 •
* Psalm 118:1-2, 14-24 •
* Colossians 3:1-4 •
* John 20:1-18
Not only is Easter late this year, but it feels like Spring is dragging its feet as well. It's funny how, despite the dates on the calendar, the actual arrival of "new life" seems to coincide once year after year...just at widely varying times. Because really, for folks who track with liturgical tradition, Easter does arrive each year, just like tulips and green grass. And every three years, the same scriptures are revisited. We enter Lent facing our human mortality and we emerge from Lent pondering the Resurrection and its impact in our own lives.
Some years, it is easier to walk into the wilderness and dwell in the slightly haunting time in between considering the life, ministry, death and resurrection of a human named Jesus. And sometimes, like winter that just won't melt away, those six weeks seem like an awfully long time to maintain any sort of direction or focus.
This might have been one of those years. Maybe. We pretty actively jumped into the Lenten season and have ended by being on the Worship Task Group that plans worship for the month of April in our worshiping community . In that time, both of us spent time preparing the "sharing" for a Sunday, we diligently addressed the lectionary on our blog, we each had private Lenten practices to observe. And here comes Easter. And we have to ask ourselves, at the end of this journey - this year in 2011 - what does Resurrection mean for us? How are we changed?
The story doesn't change from year to year, but we do. And inevitably, new things show up as we revisit words we have read many, many times before.
In the gospel of John, Mary Magdalene weeps at the tomb, having discovered Jesus' body is gone. His followers must have suspected the possibility - authorities stealing his body to assure no resurrection claims or further shenanigans from this group of "rabble-rousers." The scripture tells us that one of the disciples saw the empty tomb and 'believed.' Others departed because they 'as yet did not understand the scriptures.' Even as Mary tells the angels why she's weeping, she doesn't seem to realize that she's talking to ANGELS in an EMPTY TOMB. It's as though she's forgotten that there was a miraculous possibility. We can imagine Mary torn up by the trauma and grief of the past days. When Jesus himself appears to her, she doesn't recognize him--in fact she assumes he's the gardener. But when he says her name, she knows him. Think about that. That is really powerful. She knows this is the man she has been following, learning from, calling teacher. Because she heard him say her name. All the other clues passed her by, but the sound of his voices speaking her name reaches something deeper.
The prophet Jeremiah tells of God's return to Israel. Keep in mind that this is a prophet speaking to a war- and conflict-weary Israel. But the tradition of prophecy was strong and the fact that this prophecy remains is testament to how it must have been received. Do you suppose that like Mary Magdalene, the tribes of Israel gasped in recognition of their situation when the through the prophet Jeremiah, the LORD spoke their collective name... 'Again I will build you, and again you shall be built, O virgin Israel....' Clearly Israel experienced the Lord firsthand time and time again...something must have gotten their attention in each new episode.
And so, as we read the letter to the Colossians, we see a community pretty deeply involved in a disagreement about how to access God, and the writer is reminding them that as they believe they have been raised with Jesus Christ in resurrection, they can keep their minds set on higher things. Now it's a stretch, but we suspect that it is a lot easier to hear God/Jesus/Holy Spirit calling your name when your mind is in the right place. It's not exactly what the writer was going for...but for us, for THIS Easter, it's where it lands in our hearts.
And so, we wonder if this year, we might be listening a little closer to hear our name so that we may not KNOW, not UNDERSTAND, but perhaps just BELIEVE and be glad for the experience of believing.
God, we pray we do not fall in to
the trap of
Help us to be Present.
Help us to be Aware.
Help us to Believe.
Help us to Trust.
We know this Easter
has a chance to be
The Best Easter Ever.
And we know we must
choose to see it that way.
Thank you for loving us
in our wayward adventures
and thank you for always
being glad to see us
when we finally
© matt & laura norvell 2011 www.settingourstones.org we want to share this with you and hope you'll share with the world; we simply ask that you let people know where you found these words. May Grace & Peace be with you.
* Jeremiah 31:1-6 •
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