A Meditation on the first Easter morning.
Gospel of John:1-18. (Mary encounters the risen Jesus but it takes a while to recognise him. Then she does not want to let him go.)
Text: Jesus says to Mary:” Do not hold on to me…”
Holding on to a moment.
Perhaps you have another Easter sunrise in your memory? One you think of and say: That was a good moment. Perhaps you remember one where the Easter morning fire was burning, and the sun rose on a picture perfect day of spring.
Perhaps you have in mind another one, where it was the first Easter morning since someone in your life had gone, and you felt a tremendous mix of sadness, resignation, pain, and hope.
Some of the moments we remember most deeply, we would like to hold on to. What else might God ask us to do?
And Jesus said to Mary: Do not hold on to me…
Mary can’t quite find him.
He is supposed to be here; his body. But he’s not. Maybe she’s confused. Maybe she’s wrong. Maybe she got turned around. She runs and asks for help. But she is still left alone, weeping.
Mary can’t quite see him.
Oh she sees –somebody. But she can’t quite see him.
She knows exactly what she is looking for. But that gets in the road of who she is seeing.
Mary can’t quite hear him.
Oh, she hears this voice, asking her something. It sounds kind, and she unburdens herself to this stranger, and asks if he has found anything, seen anything, heard anything.
He speaks her name.
Named, and known, she hears.
Hearing truly, she sees.
Actually seeing, she finds.
Finds what was there all along.
And finding, she wants to keep; wants to hold on to him – and this moment – forever.
She calls him the name they all knew him by’ til last Friday: Teacher.
But this is Sunday, and there is a new title that suits better: The risen one.
And because he is risen, she cannot hold onto him.
One of our great modern preachers, Anglican priest and writer Barbara Brown Taylor, puts it this way:
“The only thing we cannot do is hold on to him.
He has asked us please not to do that.
All in all, we would rather keep him with us where we are, than let him take us where he is going.
Better we should let him hold onto us, perhaps.
Better we should let him take us into the white-hot presence of God, who is not behind us, but ahead of us, every step of the way.”
(BBT, from Home by Another Way,Cowley Pub., 1999, p.112.)
May our faith in the risen Jesus Christ lead us forward in these new and unprecedented days, that we may trust that God will hold on to us, and lead us where we need to go.
May God bless your early Easter morning! –Rev. Jim.
For Eldad-Hampton Pastoral Charge of the United Church of Canada
From Rev. Jim Feairs, our retired supply minister.
During 2020 pandemic restrictions when we could not meet together.
Moderator Richard Bott’s Easter Message, 2020
God is doing things. Mysterious things. Miraculous things. Incredible things. Resurrection things. Whether we know about them or not. And we will celebrate those things with great joy and wonder-filled alleluias—when the time is right.