Easter Sunday, April 4
Contributed by Ross Lockhart
“But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb.
As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb…”
The first ten verses of John’s resurrection narrative is frantic with activity.
Mary Magdalene discovered the stone rolled away, and she runs to tell others.
The disciples jump up and run back, only to be confused by the empty tomb
and return home without understanding. But then, in verse 11, Mary simply
lingers. She stays behind, weeping. Now, in the moment of deepest
confusion God’s revelation takes hold.
Over the years as a congregational minister, I have found that after shaking
hands at the backdoor of the church two kinds of people linger. First, those
who have a complaint. They were upset by something in the service or the
sermon. I always tried my best to cheerfully receive their feedback, after all I
had lots of time to express my views in the sermon. The other kind of person
who lingered was one who came to tell me a story. Something I said in the
sermon, or a hymn we sang, or a prayer offered reminded them of the day
Jesus found them, or the loving kindness of a grandparent, or a powerful
revelation God had given them that day in the midst of the worship service.
Sometimes, when we linger and long for God to make sense of our confusing
world, we receive a blessing. We are given a revelation from Father, Son and
Holy Spirit regarding who we are and what we are to do as witnesses,
standing in the dew-soaked grass of the garden tomb of our lives. Like Mary,
we too can have a “chance” encounter with the gardener, Emmanuel.
I’ve had the privilege of leading many pilgrimage tours to Israel over the years.
After touring the more historically accurate Church of the Holy Sepulchre (with
all its religious “bling”), I usually end our time in the Holy Land with a visit to
the more dubious “Garden Tomb” in east Jerusalem. There, in the oasis
carved out in the midst of a busy, modern city, pilgrims gather for worship and
we celebrate the Lord’s Supper. “This my body, this my blood.” In a garden
in the city where Mary once lingered, surprised by the Saviour, these
traditional words of Communion surprise us still, drawing us ever deeper into
the mystery of the Word become flesh. Salvation at our fingertips in bread
and wine. A revelation worth waiting for. A Lenten journey complete. A new
life just begun.
Lord Jesus, risen in glory and shining with the light of eternity, we glorify you
and worship you this Easter Sunday with humble hearts. Help us linger with
you in this moment, that we too might delight in your goodness and witness to
your glory wherever you lead us in the days ahead. Amen.
Ross Lockhart is Dean of St. Andrew’s Hall and Professor of Mission Studies at Vancouver
School of Theology.
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