WE WILL RISE UP!
“Mary stood weeping outside the tomb” (John 20:11), writes John, weeping, we presume, not only because they had crucified Jesus; not only that the Dream had died; not only because she is grieving his death, but weeping because someone has stolen his body. Or so she thinks. “They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him” (John 20:13). We can only imagine Mary’s grief, anxiety, fear. Those who have lost a loved one to this invisible enemy we have named Covid-19 They know what she is feeling. Nothing seems right. What was is not what is. And that’s why what happens next makes Easter all the more a day of miracle, of wonder, of Joy beyond anything any one of us can only imagine.
Suddenly, Mary comes face to face with the one who she should know but she doesn’t recognize him. She thinks he is the gardener; until, he calls her by name. “Mary it is I!” Hearing his voice awakes her senses! As you may imagine everything in her want to race toward him to hug him. But he says do not touch me. Barbara Brown Taylor, the eloquent Episcopal priest, points out that the scripture never says that “Mary reached out and tried to hold Jesus. His comment, she writes, was a peculiar thing to say, unless …Unless it was what she called him – my Teacher – the old name she used to call him … but that was his Friday name and here it was Sunday He is Messiah!– an entirely new day in an entirely [new body] new life.”[i]
Was Jesus saying, “Do not touch me because of what had changed? Could it be that that he needed her to understand all that was yesterday is passed away? Behold! I AM the Risen Savior, who calls you to follow me, into a brand-new way of living! Mary suddenly no longer cries with sadness; she now weeps for joy! She no longs remembers the image of her dead teacher that she helped bury on Friday. She sees Jesus the Christ! Alive! Easter Sunday! Her grief vanquished! A new Reality replaces everything she ever knew about life and death. She is flooded with all of his words that inspired her faith… now a reality before. Her!
The old has passed away behold the new! That Good Friday-Roman Cross that caused her to choke with tear as she stood by crying in terror, grief and fear, Behold! The Cross will be forever a symbol of faith, hope and love.
Today multitudes, globally, have been home Self-isolating to stop another killer, Covid-19. But it continues to capture victims. This Global pandemic to date: has infected 1,792,779 people. And has killed 109,786. people around the world. The first death in the US occurred on February 26, 2020 in Seattle. This Easter Morning in the US there are 533,115 cases and 20,580 Deaths. We are living in a changed world, where grief and fear are line an undercurrent humming.
There is a commercial using the first words to a song by John Legend. we will rise up! These words are words of hope. The meaning of these words are powerful when we consider the Resurrection of Jesus Christ because He Rose up! The resurrection story is where out hope lives. But its meaning is made full only when we tell the whole story.
Good Friday happened before Easter Sunday. There was turmoil death, tears, fear, anxiety, struggle to understand. Mary never dreamed how her life would change from Friday to Sunday. When Mary recognized Jesus. It was when he spoke her name. Her reaction must have been to run to him to hold him. But Jesus says no do not touch me. We live in a world where social distancing is vital to mitigating this disease. We have had to say those words to people we love. We can put ourselves in Mary’s shoes. Knowing we cannot go and hug and be in the presence of the people we love. Unlike Mary we know the day will come and we will be free to rise up and go and be with those we miss and long for. It will be a day of great Joy! It will be a new Day! Where the old has passed away and the new has come! It will feel like we were born again! New Life!
Resurrection is good news! We cannot get to that day without courage, strength and more importantly solitary. We have freely self-isolated and have done this united, on purpose, for a purpose! And for most, we put politics aside. By doing this we are holding each other up. We are sharing each other’s burden. Our lives are now woven together but our collective action! It is the good in most humans that will vanquish this evil plague. That is why we will say on that day we get the green light with tears in our eyes, I RISE UP! This kind of resurrection happens not in the absence of death, but includes it, encompasses it, embraces it, and then transforms it, by an effort of heart and good will.
The First Easter begins with Mary crying out of grief and sadness. Not long after, tears of gladness and joy flow as the Risen Christ calls her by name and invites her to LET GO of the past and ARISE and follow him into a whole new day and a whole new life. This is our chance to create a more just global community! Jesus continues to call us by name inviting us to let go of the way we did things all those yesterdays, let die old ways of thinking. And imagine a clearer more must world. Easter is a real hope. So even in the midst of our tribulation and suffering, May we, WHEN THE DAY COMES WE WILL RISE UP! And go to those we have been isolated from! We will hug them: our Parents our children and grandchildren extended family our co-workers and friends. We will do this with a joy maybe never known before. For those who have lost love ones. The day will come when we will see them again. And what a reunion that will be! May you remember through our collective experience that WE belong to God, and God belongs to Us and WE all BELONG TO EACH OTHER. Amen!
[i]Barbara Brown Taylor, “The Unnatural Truth” in The Christian Century, March 20–27, 1996, p. 325