Our Easter gospel, the pinnacle of all gospel readings for we Christians, starts with humble beginnings. Like the Christmas story, which is also centred on very humble beginnings in how God entered into time and space in this world, Easter begins much the same. A woman, a saint of our Church, went to be with the lifeless body of her companion and friend. She ventured out of her home while the world was in darkness but anticipating new light with the coming dawn. She went to the burial ground in hopes of just being closer to the body of Jesus. Mary of Magdala, set out in the dark of a new day anticipating probably nothing besides death but discovered eternity. She discovered that place where heaven and earth are linked, where present time and eternal life are joined, where God would change this humble beginning into a light that could never be extinguished. For Christ had risen from the dead. The darkness and death of this world was not to have
the final say but God’s hope, God’s forgiveness, God’s new life would have the last word. We need to hear and know and discover this good news for ourselves, perhaps even more so this year.
Easter, having lived through so much time of pandemic and heaviness and worry and fear, will feel different in 2021. We have been living such cautious and careful lives for more than a year, and we need our Easter celebrations to go well beyond humble beginnings and enter a new level. We need to push past the darkness, the fearing and troubling anxiety of living in an epidemic and discover more fully the true hope and calling that God has for us in this world and beyond this world. The empty tomb that Mary of Magdala discovered was
not empty of the body of Jesus but was filled with new life. She discovered the holiest of holy grounds and found that “neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else would be able to separate us from the love
of God in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:38-39). This is transforming and life altering. Mary Magdalene could not be the same afterwards and neither can we. The empty tomb is our sign that indeed God is beyond the limits we might want to place on God. That those definitions and predictabilities we might want to prescribe to God are insufficient. That God’s grace exceeds our own limitations. That death and time and
place are not restrictions for God who first breathed life into us. For Alleluia, Christ is risen!
A few years ago, I was blessed to have the opportunity to walk a portion of the Camino de Santiago in northern Spain. We had a very long train ride to get to our starting point. We arrived late and there was little left of the day when we found our accommodation. We had a quick meal and settled in for the night ready to start on the pilgrimage route before the dawn of the next day. My wife and I were both tired, but we had trouble sleeping. It was hot, there was a lot of traffic noise despite this being a small town, and the local roosters were crowing well before the sun broke the horizon. The alarm went off and neither of us were ready to face the day. But we ventured out anyway. Stumbling in the darkness before dawn we sought directions from our host. “How will we know when we are on the right path?” I asked in great innocence. “You will know,” she said, confidently. “You will know. Buen camino,” she offered as she went about her day. And despite
the dark we found our way, we found our path, we found our pilgrimage route, we found what we were seeking… not what we were expecting but what we were seeking. Much like Mary Magdalene, setting out in the darkness, it made room to see the true light: the light of resurrection and new life, of new purpose and new meaning, of new relationship with God repaired and renewed.
As the sun eventually broke the horizon, light started to come to the path we walked. Light for us to see where we thought we were going, only to discover that the light revealed much more than that. It revealed that God is not predictable, the Holy Spirit continues to move amongst us, the light of Christ cannot be blocked out of this world but will continue to shine beyond our definitions and beyond our planning. The
light of Christ will not be dimmed by pandemic or crucifixion or death or an expected end. The light of Christ continues to shine from that burial garden of long ago but even in our own lives and our own purpose.
Such is Easter. It is the place of discovery that God is with us and calls us beloved in this world and into the world to come. The resurrection of Jesus is the eternal message that we are forgiven and freed. And so, while the pandemic still exists around us, may we know the peace and joy of Easter. A peace and joy that is beyond all understanding but centred on that moment long ago when Mary Magdalene discovered an empty
tomb… only to realize that it was actually filled with new life.
Alleluia, Christ is risen!
O God of resurrection and Easter, bless our homes and our lives
with Alleluias. Fill our hearts and souls with the transformational
message that Christ is risen: linking heaven to earth, uniting our
souls to God’s purpose, inviting Christ’s peace into our fears. May
we live as resurrection people confident in your grace and love. In
the name of Jesus, the resurrected one we pray. Amen.
PHOTOS Courtesy of Bishop John Stephens