Tag Archives: Mary Magdalene

The Empty Tomb

The Empty Cross

The Empty Cross

Alleluia! Christ is risen
He is risen indeed. Alleluia!

It was with this greeting and response; as we sat down to share our evening meal that a new term began at college. It was only two days beforehand that I had sat next to the Easter cross in my home church, celebrating Easter Sunday and here I was, back to my studies but with new tasks to complete and new challenges. It seemed the same, but then again it also seemed different

I suspect it was the like that for the women, who approached the tomb on the first day of the week. Yes, a dreadful thing had happened and yes, they were probably a bit disorientated and shaken, but they were coming to do what they would always have done if someone died – that at least was normal, but what happened next was very different

Each Gospel gives a slightly different version of accounts. In Mark there are several women together to who arrive to anoint the body, only to find that the stone sealing the tomb had been rolled back and inside was a young white-robed man telling them not to be afraid, but that the body wasn’t there. Despite his call for calm, they are terrified and flee from the tomb, too afraid to tell anyone what they have seen

In Matthew, it is two Marys who go to look at the tomb, only to experience an earthquake, caused by an angel’s descent from heaven; who puts the guards into a stupor and then shows them that Jesus is not in the tomb. He sends them fearfully, yet joyfully, to deliver a message to the disciples that they are to return to Galilee, only for them to meet Jesus himself who confirms what they must do.

In Luke we again hear about a group of women, who meet two dazzlingly dressed men and after being reminded of what Jesus had previously told them, return to the disciples only to be accused of idle talk until Peter runs to look for himself.

Finally, in John, it is Mary Magdalene who, on seeing that the stone has been removed, runs back to tell this to Simon Peter and the beloved disciple, who both then set off towards the tomb, the latter outrunning Peter to reach the tomb, but respectfully waiting for Peter to enter it first, only to be met by discarded linen wrappings. However, it is after this that Mary in a bitter-sweet moment encounters Jesus and can report this back to all the disciples.

All of these accounts add to the story of what happened, but the one fact that they all substantiate is that the tomb was empty.

‘Do not be afraid; I know that you are looking for Jesus who was crucified.
He is not here; for he has been raised, as he said.’ Matthew 28:5-6

I often wonder if it shouldn’t be the tomb that is used more as an image of Christ’s resurrection, a permanent reminder of the defeat of death – but equally it is the empty cross that is a powerful and iconic symbol of transformation to which we are drawn.

This is his blood which he shed for you

This is his blood which he shed for you

The truth is that in a way this transformation is what was happening on Sunday, as I watched people, coming forward to place a flower around the cross. The blooms themselves were fresh and vibrant, and everyone placed them as carefully as they could, trying not to bruise the petals. However, some found it difficult to push  them into the ‘ground’, while others knew exactly the spot they wanted in relation to the position of the cross. One flower in particular caught my attention – a beautiful cream tulip, streaked with red, that was placed right in the centre  at the very foot – which looked this morning as if its cup had opened up to catch the blood that would have fallen from Jesus’ body

Yet, as beautiful as this display had become, each single representative bloom was already dying; just as we are called to die to Christ in order to be transformed and given new life. This truly is the joy of the Easter message and yet not everyone chooses to respond to it. That, no doubt, is the greatest regret as far as God is concerned as he tries, in love, to reconcile all of his creation. However, it still doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t try and do our part by sharing the Good News

Alleluia! Christ is risen
He is risen indeed. Alleluia!

He is risen as he said

He is risen as he said

 

 

 

 

 

A State Of Flux

State of Flux

State of Flux

Why are you so full of heaviness, O my soul, • and why are you so disquieted within me?
Psalm 42:6

Just lately I have been feeling really unsettled and I just can’t put my finger on it. On the surface nothing has obviously happened that might cause this feeling of unrest; in fact things have been falling into place and my self-confidence has been gradually increasing – but still there is a feeling of general unease.

Obviously, looking back there are many changes that have taken place in my life over the last few months; the excitement and nervousness about starting college; learning how to split my week between study and wanting to continue to serve my home church; as well as pulling back on some of my voluntary commitments. Alongside these, in my personal life, I have been rediscovering what it means to be part of a married couple, now that the girls have left home and are more or less independent.

These are all definite changes, and as I’ve written about before, change is not something to be concerned about, but is necessary for us to grow as people and in our faith. So I don’t think it’s that. Perhaps it’s more about transformation

You might say that change is actually only the events or things that we either choose or have thrust upon us, which will have an effect on us in some way. What comes out of those changes is transformation, because we will never be the same and we can never go back to being the person we were before.

This can apply to so many life events, but a vivid example, where this is clearly apparent is where death and loss are concerned. Mags Blackie in a recent post, spoke about Kay Warren, an American pastor’s wife and her family’s emotional journey through grief, following the suicide of her son. There was an expectation from people around them, that life would eventually get back to ‘normal’. However, Kay’s observation was that her true friends recognised that this wasn’t going to happen, ‘they don’t pressure their friend to be the old familiar person they’re used to; they’re willing to accept that things are different’. 

Clearly this and similar events involve huge and uncomfortable changes and where our faith is concerned, those changes might not on the surface be so obvious. If we were to look to biblical times, there are many more examples where ordinary people have come into contact with God and the changes that that entailed transformed them and their lives forever. We can think of Peter, who after meeting Jesus, was transformed from a humble fisherman to a leader of Christ’s church; or Mary Magdalene, a woman with a troubled past, but who’s devotion to Jesus transformed her into the one who was trusted to reveal his resurrection to the other apostles.

Yet none of these things happened overnight, it was something that occurred gradually, and whilst it was emerging there would often be a period when they were in a state of flux – uncertain of what was to be done but aware that it preceded a new direction for their lives.

What I am certain of is that no-one once they have come into contact with God, as creator, redeemer or sustainer can remain unchanged. So if you too are seeing changes in your lives and are feeling uncomfortable or unsure about it – just hold on in there, for all will eventually be revealed.

Perhaps for me this period of unrest is just one of those moments, when I am beginning to realise that things are irrevocably changing and that life is not going to ever be the same again. In that case, I’m going to take a deep breath and say, ‘Let the transformation continue…’

O put your trust in God; • for I will yet give him thanks,
who is the help of my countenance, and my God.
Psalm 42:7