It makes all the difference

A reflection for Easter Day
John 20.1-18

It is Easter morning, and the first words on our lips are ‘Alleluia, Christ is risen!’. We then look at the news, in the hope to find the world a different place; a place in which we had never heard about Covid-19, and we felt safe and secure. Yet, we wake up to the same reality as yesterday: what we had wished to be a dream from which we wake, is the world in which we live.

IMG_0631Yet, today, everything is different, although it may not seem so. To understand, let’s look at the story of Mary, one of the most moving stories in the Bible. Early in the morning, while it was still dark, Mary goes to the tomb where they had laid Jesus a couple of days earlier. She is on her own, and I wonder what she is looking and hoping for? Is she hoping that by visiting the grave, she will wake up from this nightmare, and realise Jesus is still there?

She finds the stone rolled away from the tomb. Scared and confused, she runs to her friends and tells them. After they see the tomb empty and the linen wrappings, we hear, they see and believe, and they return home.

Mary, however, remains: weeping and confused. She says again “They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him.” Then, she turns around and sees a man standing in the garden. She does not recognise him, and then for the third time asks where the body of Jesus is, so that she can lay him to rest.

Empty tombIt is only when the man calls her name “Mary”, that she recognises who he is. It is Jesus himself, and he is alive. Yet, as Jesus emphasises, this moment is not the moment she wakes up from her nightmare, to find him back to life. No, this is the moment that new life begins, everything is different, and she cannot hold on to him.

Jesus tells her to go and tell the others that he is risen: ‘say to them, “I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God”.’ That first Easter morning is not a celebration of the end of a time of pain and grief, but the commissioning of a new era. A time in which our hope and faith have been confirmed.

That is, I would like to suggest, also a way for us to approach this Easter. It is not a private celebration, but we need to go and tell others. How? By being and sharing who we are. Mary’s testimony to the disciples is simple, yet profound “I have seen the Lord”. If that has changed everything for us, so let it help us work to make it change everything for others.

Let us this Eastertide be signs of hope by what we say and what we do. By being present to others; by being thoughtful, kind and generous. This morning, we have been given the greatest gift of this time: the gift of hope. So let’s not keep it to ourselves, but share it with those around us. We have seen the Lord. He is risen. Alleluia.

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