Happy Easter! The work of Lent is over and we stand again at the edge of the tomb looking in wondering what it was that has just happened. The stark contrast between Lent and Easter helps draw our attention to the incredible and life changing moment that the Easter Proclamation represents in our lives. We move from the dark and austere nature of a season where reflection and introspection help us draw closer to God, into a season of abundance and joy. As the lights are thrown on, organ thunder, and the first great alleluias are proclaimed in the deep of Holy Saturday evening, we see first hand what Mary received at the tomb in the gospel which opens our letter. We see an invitation to community.
John’s gospel, is focused on the purpose and identity of Christ in its own unique way. Unlike the synoptic gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke, John does not share the same details but rather embraces the themes of what Christ is doing, in order to demonstrate that he really is the Messiah. John is writing to a community, not unlike our own, which is starting to question if Jesus is ever going to come back. Looking around us today it is easy to see so many places where the return of Jesus and the promises of Easter could heal this divided world, and yet we wait for a time which has no date for that return to happen. That makes being in community very hard, and often trying, something that we share with Mary in the Gospel of John.
Mary, as the first witness to the resurrection and close friend of Jesus, approaches the tomb in deep grief. Mary just wants to feel things like they used to be, to touch his hand, and hear his voice, but she knows that because he is dead her whole life has changed. Perhaps at the tomb, she can figure out a way to feel normal again; to make sense of what she just went through. You see, Mary’s whole world and purpose was wrapped up in the person of Jesus, in his message and in his ideas. He provided her a vision and mission for her life, that became her sole purpose and direction, and now she was closely encountering the void due to His death. She felt isolated and adrift from what she was meant to do with life now that he is dead, and yet in the moment of her greatest despair, she is called back into community by name to do the work of the Gospel.
Mary reminds us of how it is we are called into community, into the community of the Cross. Life is never perfect, things will go wrong, there will be people we don't agree with, and challenges we might not know how to overcome, but the Cross of Christ remains at its centre. The message of Easter through Mary, opens the door to a freedom in Christ to move into new places and seek out relationships with those around us. Easter in our homes is the time we have great dinners and parties, we see more visitors to the church, and we celebrate the new life that is already around us. We do this, because Mary was there doing it for us first. In the depths of Mary’s feeling of isolation, despair and brokenness, Christ comes to her and calls her by name- calls her into community with a specific job. Mary is to go and tell the world about what she has just witnessed. Go and tell them! Go and tell them I am ascending, Jesus says. Go and tell the world what you have seen here!
This is our mission this Easter, to live like Mary in a world of doubt and fear. To draw close to the tomb asking to see Jesus, and to run into the world telling the good news that Christ is not dead, but alive! ALLELUIA! So this Easter, here are a few ways we can lean into this work together;
Easter is here, Jesus is Risen, and we are called into community by name. The world will never be the same again! ALLELUIA!
May the blessings of Easter fill your life with the love of His grace.
these lands upon which we worship as the ancestral, cultural, traditional and unceded lands of the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam) people from time immemorial.