Easter Sunday Reflection April 12th 2020
Fr. Andrew Hall (Rector of St Catherine and St Peter in the Parish of Burbage cum Aston Flamville.)
The gospel for this Easter Sunday tells how Mary of Magdala arrives early in the morning and sees the stone has been rolled away and that the tomb is empty. Her first reaction is one of shock after the tragic and sorrowful events of Good Friday.
She has come to grieve and spend some time with her beloved friend and try to make some sense of what has happened. It is only a week since Jesus had ridden into Jerusalem on a colt and the crowds had cheered and waved their palm branches.
Now she is greatly surprised to find that the tomb is empty and she runs off to find the disciples.
It isn’t always possible to predict how people are going to react. Some people who seem very ordinary and timid most of the time turn out to be superb in a crisis, while the person we all thought would be brave goes to pieces completely.
Some people cope philosophically with sadness and loss but are totally thrown by unexpected happiness or good fortune; it’s as though it disturbs their own equilibrium of life.
What is for sure is that people are all different!
During Holy Week this year we have been reflecting upon the 7 last words of Jesus, our ministry team at St Catherine’s and St. Peters have given us all things to ponder and think about each day. May I take this opportunity to thank them for their words and pray that God would greatly enrich their life as they have enriched ours.
Thinking about the 7 last words of Jesus started me thinking about Jesus’ first words after the resurrection.
I wonder if you know what they were?
Was it, “I have risen from the dead?” or “I have conquered sin and death?”
or perhaps, “I have opened the Gates of Glory, welcome my people?”
The actual answer is not quite what we would expect.
In fact the answer is different in all of the gospel accounts.
In Matthew, the women run from the tomb, having been told by angels what has happened and what it means. They then meet Jesus who says to them “Greetings”… do not be afraid: go and tell my brothers and sisters to go to Galilee, there they will see me.
Friends, Jesus will always greet us, he longs to be with us and in relationship with us, always.
In Mark, Jesus does not say anything (or at least in the more reliable early manuscripts) there is just silence, trembling and bewilderment.
In Luke there is no record of Jesus saying anything until he meets the two disciples on the road to Emmaus, and what an encounter that is; that is for another time!
In John’s account, the one we have heard today, Mary finds the tomb empty, fetches Peter and John, she then lingers at the tomb. She is the first person to see the risen Jesus (though she mistakes Him for the gardener).
Jesus days to her, “Why are you weeping?’ and then, “Who are you looking for?” and then her name, “Mary.”
These are astonishing words:
• First Jesus speaks to the sadness within her
• Second Jesus speaks to her lostness
• Then he calls her name, “Mary.”
He addresses her personally, acknowledging her feelings, touching her emotions and dealing with her thoughts and calls her by name.
Friends, listen to this account, this is how God would deal with us all. sensitively, lovingly and by name. Thus enabling a new relationship with Jesus, a new relationship with God.
This is the Easter Day message, a new start, new beginnings, new life!
These first words Jesus spoke on Easter Day, aren’t as dramatic or powerful as such, but they do deserve to be thought about, to meditate upon.
The words for the Tomb can speak to us as powerfully as the words from the Cross.
They give us new insight into the resurrection life, speak to us in our condition and loss and give us hope that our name, Mary, John, Peter, Andrew, are on His lips.
Do you hear them?
Just like words from the garden in Genesis 3:8-9; Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, they hid from the Lord God among the trees of the garden. But the Lord God called to the man and woman, “Where are you?”
Today, my prayer is that you would hear his voice calling you.
Today, may you respond to his call, as he speaks into your situation, giving you hope and addressing your needs, and indeed calling you by name.
Today, beloved of God, it is Easter Day, a new start, a new beginning and a new life.