Imagine her at the tomb, expecting – nothing but death. A dead man. Mary Magdalene, along with Joanna and the other women, had come, in that early dawning, to prepare their master’s body for its final rest.
Nothing there – not even a corpse!
And then the angels.
Terrifying presence, terrifying absence.
—He is not here?
—Why would he be? He is alive, has risen.
This is incredible, it’s indelible, and it is Mary’s first inkling, of revelation of the truth.
Death has been defeated, swallowed up in victory.
We all have experiences of vivid moments— where you when.
When you met Gabby Giffords. Where you were when you heard she was shot.
Diane Feinstein remembers the shooting of George Moscone and Harvey Milk. She was in her office in city hall in San Francisco and a former colleague, Dan White, walked by. “Hey, Dan! Wait a minute…” But he kept walking.
She heard a door close. Shots. And then, she says, she opened the wrong door. Harvey Milk dead. George Moscone dead.
That night an angry crowd gathered on the pavement outside City Hall. Angry, at the crime of hate. And a riot brewed.
Diane came out on the balcony of City Hall, above the front door, outside the room where the killing had taken place. She was carrying a single candle and she was alone.
She spoke to the crowd, calmly. They became quiet. But she never forgot that day or that night.
One person’s vivid experience of terror, loss, and sorrow.
Mary of Magdala would never forget the man she met, walking by the lakeshore or telling a story in a village. She remembered how he helped her come to herself, healed her, set her free of oppression, and helped her to find the way to her true self.
And she followed him, ever since. Then the Hosannas, the cup and the bread, and the Cross. Silence on Saturday—
And now all her loss, all her grief, magnified, in his absence—
Only to find, joyous beyond believing, he had risen!
Her experience of the risen Christ began. She had known him as well as anyone – and he knew her better than everyone. In him she had found forgiveness, grace, and a calling. A call to be a disciple. The burden of forgiveness. The weight of grace.
He did not leave her to bear the weight of grace alone. And she heard the call to carry his message.
The burden of forgiveness, the weight of grace, the call to life.
How do you experience his presence, the presence of the risen Christ?
I was inquisitive, seeking wisdom, asking questions, until one day, I found all my seeking satisfied in the presence of the Lord.
I woke up early, six o’clock on a Holy Saturday morning, and I thought— and I caught myself thinking— “Now if Jesus…”
And I smiled, a little half smile. Because I knew. I realized, and admitted, that I knew Jesus was real. And I accepted him.
I prayed and accepted— the burden of forgiveness, the weight of grace, and the call, the call to be a disciple.
And I accepted the yoke of the calling: to be his disciple, to bear his good news into the world, to live it and to proclaim it. I had come to myself, my true self, in his presence.
And knew what it was to be free. And I began to follow him.
He did not leave me alone in this: he gave me companions on the way, and he is with me, through the Spirit, to share the burden, shoulder the yoke, and bear the weight.
We are not any of us alone, because it is a gift to be shared, a story to be told. It is a gift so precious, so priceless, that it has to be given away.
The gift of the knowledge
of the reality
of the experience
of the presence
of the risen Lord.
All of us are seeking the same thing, and the same thing, your grace, is seeking all of us.
Be known to us in the breaking of bread.
Come Lord Jesus, be known to us, be present among us; that we may make you known to the world.