The First Easter

No one knew for certain what would happen. There were no guarantees; only faith, and hope, and courage.

The Scripture

John 20:1–18

Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb and saw that it had been opened. So she rushed off to Simon Peter and the other disciple (the one Jesus loved), and said, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him.”

Peter and the other disciple set out for the tomb, running. The other disciple reached the tomb first and bent down to look in, but did not go in. Then Simon Peter got there and went into the tomb. He saw the linen wrappings lying there, and the cloth that had been on Jesus’ head rolled up a little distance away. Then the other disciple, who reached the tomb first, also went in, and he saw and believed (they didn’t yet understand the scripture: that he must rise from the dead). After that the two went back to their homes.

But Mary stayed, weeping outside the tomb. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb; and she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had been lying, one at the head and the other at the feet. They said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?”

She said to them, “They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him.” After saying this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she didn’t recognize him. He said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Who are you looking for?”

Supposing him to be the gardener, she said, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will take him away.”

Jesus said to her, “Mary!”

She turned and cried, “Dear teacher!”

Jesus said to her, “Do not hold on to me, because I have not yet ascended to the Father. But go to my brothers and sisters and tell them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’”

Mary Magdalene want to the disciples and announced, “I have seen the Lord”; and told them that he had said these things to her.

Photo of a flower

~ Reflection ~ by Deborah Beach Giordano
April 1, 2018

The Early Morning ~ Mary Magdalene's Story

originally told March 2016

Mary MagdaleneI arose early and slipped out into the early dawn. The wind whipped against my face and body and the chill air made me shiver. Wrapping my cloak closer, I hurried toward that place — that awful place, where they had placed the crucified body of my Lord. Perhaps … Perhaps… I was almost afraid to hope; perhaps he would be there, just as he said.

As I made my way toward the place where he had been laid, a rooster crowed. Jesus had been right; every one of those “brave men” who had said they would follow him always — to the courts, to prison, torture, even to death… Oh, they made big promises indeed; until they faced real danger.

I shook my head, clearing away the anger and resentment. Soon they would see; surely. Surely everything would be all right, just as he said. Then they would see; all of them. Except Judas. He would not see. Mad with grief and despair and unbearable guilt, he had taken his own life. It was tragic: one who had been with us from the beginning, a man who had so much faith that Jesus was the Messiah; how could he have given the Lord away?

The echo of my own footsteps brought me sharply to attention. The steps leading to the tombs were lined with the same marble as Caesar’s great roads: the Way of the Empire; the way of peace — through the sword. The way that leads to death.

It was lighter now; the sky a swirl of pink and gold: in the distance the sun had risen. The tomb was just a few steps away around this last ….

tombMy heart stopped. I felt my whole body grow cold; the tomb had been opened! Could Pilate’s soldiers have taken his body? Was his precious head even now posted above the city gates: a bloody, terrible warning to all who are accused of speaking against the Roman Way?

I turned and ran, my sandals slipping over the dew-wet grass, escaping from that awful place.

My feet led me to the sweet disciple’s home. Wildly rapping on his door, I cried out, “They have taken him! He is gone!”

The kind soul was beside me in an instant, “What are you saying? Where have you been?”

“I have been to the tomb. They have taken the Lord! He is not there!” My words came in short bursts, between gasping sobs.

The door from the house next door was thrown open. “What’s going on?” Peter rubbed the sleep from his eyes, “What are you doing here at this hour?”

“They have taken the Lord out of the tomb and we do not know where they have laid him,” the sweet one said.

“Are you sure?” Peter frowned at me, “This isn’t some dream you had?”

“I was there!” I said, “I was at the tomb, and the stone has been rolled away. He is not there!”

Before I had finished speaking the dear disciple had set off, running toward the tomb. Peter and I followed.

When we got to that awful place I saw the dear disciple bending low before the entrance to the tomb as if kneeling in prayer. Peter pushed past him and went into the tomb then stood, as if frozen: “Can it be?”

Then the dear one entered. He was silent for a moment, then said, “It is true. Death cannot hold him.” He blinked twice and with a glance at me, ran off.

Peter was still shaking his head as he walked away.

I leaned against the stone which had covered the tomb, my tears etching circles in the dust.

angels at the tombThen a sound. I will tell you these were voices, but unlike any heard on earth. Two notes in harmony, saying, “Woman, why are you weeping?”

There was a brightness, a glowing, as if the sun was shining from within the tomb and I saw two white-clad figures sitting there, where my dearest Lord’s body had been.

Angels from on high they may have been, but I was not afraid. Nothing could hurt me; my heart was already broken, “They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have put him.”

They did not reply, but simply sat, staring out at me. I turned away in despair; not wanting to look at the empty place where my dear Jesus’ body had been.

And there, behind me, was a man: a gardener, surely. I lowered my head, hiding my red and swollen eyes.

He said, “Woman, why are you weeping? Who are you looking for?”

in the garden

Why did I not recognize that voice? Overwhelmed, frightened, confused? I cannot explain it now. I only said, “Oh, oh sir! If you’ve taken him, please tell me where he is! I will take him. Please!” And again I was sobbing.

Then I heard the voice again and understood; my name, spoken like a caress, “Mary!”

I fell at his feet, my joy beyond all telling, “Dearest one! My dear teacher!”

I felt his lips against my forehead, “I must go to the Father,” Jesus said.

“No!” I shook my head and grasped his robe, “No! Don’t leave me again! I cannot bear it! Please!”

He smiled at me and took my hand in his, “Don’t be afraid, little one, I will not abandon you. Now go and tell my brothers and sisters that I said, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’ ”

And that is what I did. I, Mary Magdalene, went forth from that place and proclaimed the glorious good news — as I tell you: “I have seen the Lord.” He is risen. Alleluia!

Christ’s joy and peace be with you always,

Mary Magdalene

Suggested Spiritual Exercise

Live as if the gospel Truth were true. Do not be afraid.

Virtual hugs and real-time blessings,

Deborah