reading and meditation for Easter

Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the entrance. So she came running to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one Jesus loved, and said, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we don’t know where they have put him!”

So Peter and the other disciple started for the tomb. Both were running, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. He bent over and looked in at the strips of linen lying there but did not go in. Then Simon Peter came along behind him and went straight into the tomb. He saw the strips of linen lying there, as well as the cloth that had been wrapped around Jesus’ head. The cloth was still lying in its place, separate from the linen. Finally the other disciple, who had reached the tomb first, also went inside. He saw and believed. (They still did not understand from Scripture that Jesus had to rise from the dead.) Then the disciples went back to where they were staying.

Now Mary stood outside the tomb crying. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb and saw two angels in white, seated where Jesus’ body had been, one at the head and the other at the foot.

They asked her, “Woman, why are you crying?”

“They have taken my Lord away,” she said, “and I don’t know where they have put him.” At this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not realize that it was Jesus.

He asked her, “Woman, why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?”

Thinking he was the gardener, she said, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will get him.”

Jesus said to her, “Mary.”

She turned toward him and cried out in Aramaic, “Rabboni!”(which means “Teacher”).

Jesus said, “Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father. Go instead to my brothers and tell them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’”

Mary Magdalene went to the disciples with the news: “I have seen the Lord!” And she told them that he had said these things to her.

John 20:1-18

Mary Magdalene was the first evangelist, which means proclaimer of what in her case she was a witness to. She was the first of many eyewitnesses who saw Jesus after his resurrection.

It’s interesting that the Lord appeared to her and angels proclaimed Jesus’s resurrection to the women before Jesus appeared to the Eleven. This would surely later come across to the Eleven as a rebuke, since they initially did not accept the women’s witness, which in that day was not considered as credible as men’s testimony.

It is also interesting that Jesus in his resurrection state is not immediately recognized by those who knew him. There is at least something different in his appearance. But at a certain point, he is recognized, or his identity acknowledged. It’s hard to know what precisely to make of that except to say that with the resurrection the old has gone and the new has come, not by the old being obliterated, but by the old becoming new. There is a change in us who by faith have entered into the promise of Christ’s resurrection, beginning now in this life. As we look forward to the final change to come, when the world and all creation is included in Christ’s resurrection in the new creation.

We live in the beginning of that new day now, in and through Jesus and his death and resurrection.

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prayer for St. Patrick’s Day

Almighty God, who in your providence chose your servant Patrick to be the apostle of the Irish people, to bring those who were wandering in darkness and error to the true light and knowledge of you: Grant us so to walk in that light, that we may come at last to the light of everlasting life; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and ever.

Book of Common Prayer (reading on Patrick of Ireland)

a wise witness

A witness in the Christian sense of the word is one whose life is given to sharing the good news of Jesus for the world, for each one’s world, out of their own world, or experience in seeing the truth of the good news in Jesus. The Greek word of the New Testament is from where we get our word martyr, and it certainly has included the laying down of life even literally at times, because of one’s witness of their faith.

I believe a wise witness is one who listens well and loves simply to love. They are never about simply wanting to get other people saved apart from such love. A wise witness is humble, knowing first of all that they themselves are sinners, even as Paul said, the worst of sinners. That they are about removing the plank from their own eye before they can see clearly enough to remove the speck of sawdust from another’s eye.

A wise witness will speak. In the sense of sharing and even declaring. We will all come across differently, for sure. Some may say a lot, and some not that much. But we will point others to Jesus, and to God’s grace and kingdom come in him. To God’s reign in King Jesus. To the cross, Jesus’ death and resurrection. Speaking both of forgiveness of sins and new life. As well as judgment and new creation.

A wise witness is empowered by the Holy Spirit. We are active but it’s in the power and love of the Spirit. Although sometimes we may not know what is going on, but God is active alongside us in God’s good work for others.

I hope my life is more and more that of of a wise witness.

Anna Rapa’s book, Second Story: Seeing What’s Not Being Said, is a quite helpful novel in giving us an important view of what a wise witness is. See my review of that book here.