1st April 2018

Wiping Away Tears

(from www.lifeandwork.org)

 

A reflection for Easter Day by the Rt Rev Dr Derek Browning

 

It must have been quiet, very quiet, in the garden where the tomb of Jesus was.

So quiet that Mary, sad Mary, could almost have heard her heart beating.

It would have been quiet all the way through the streets of Jerusalem as Mary picked her way from the place where the frightened disciples were hiding after the Sabbath till at last, she arrived at the place where the stone tomb was. And in the quiet, each step along the way, she would have been in tears.

The grief of having lost Jesus, having seen Him die on the cross; having accompanied His body to the tomb, having seen the stone rolled over must have been terrible. And then the waiting. The long waiting on the day of rest when nothing could be done.

In the chilly dawn, in the quiet hour before sunrise, Mary goes to the tomb, and finds the stone rolled away. John goes to the tomb, and finds the stone rolled away, and looks in, and the tomb empty, and the grave-clothes empty, and the body gone. Peter goes to the tomb, and finds the stone rolled away, and goes in, and sees the grave-clothes folded up, and the body gone.

Whilst outside, Mary wept. What had they done with dead Jesus? Even after a vision of angels telling her that Jesus was alive, Mary still wept. The man she thought was the gardener asked:  “Woman, why are you weeping?” So many tears on Easter morning.

She told the man that she was seeking Jesus, Whose body was gone. All she wanted was the body back so she could ensure He was safe, and cherish His memory, and have somewhere to visit when she was sad, or alone, or afraid.

Jesus said to her: “Mary.”

Recognition came. Mary realised Who it was because He called her name. Jesus said to her: “Mary.” I believe if she had still been crying, her tears stopped. She heard, she saw, she understood, she believed.

One of the greatest fears in the world today is not that we are nameless, but rather that our names will not be known or called. When nobody knows or calls our name, we stand outside the embrace of the surrounding community. There is no one to wipe away our tears.

The power of the story of faith, seen supremely in the Easter resurrection story, is not that we are nameless, but rather that we are not only known, but named. In a baptism a name is given, and in a baptism, God confirms that He already knows us and loves us. In the Easter story, if we go looking for Jesus and don’t see Him straight away, He will call our name until at last, even through tears of doubt or fear or anger or disbelief, we at last hear Him saying our name.

Jesus, saying our name. Almost as if He wiped away our tears.


The Rt Rev Dr Derek Browning is the Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland

A Prayer for Easter Day

An Empty Day: reflection for Holy Saturday by the Rev Margaret Forrester



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