Christ is Here

April 8, 2020
Rev. Anna Perry Miller, Associate Pastor for Adult Discipleship
Lectionary Readings: Isaiah 50:4-9a  • Psalm 70  • Hebrews 12:1-3  • John 13:21-32
Holy Week at RRCB



Good Morning Friends. Each day this week, we are drawing near to God as we focus on the last week of Christ’s life. Today, based on Frederick Buechner’s writing in his book Peculiar Treasurers, let’s glance into the life of Mary Magdalene.

As Jesus, in his ministry, traveled and taught, healed and touched, many people were transformed and healed.

Buechner says, Jesus “had a group of women with him whom he’d cast evil spirits out of once and who had not only joined up with him but all chipped in to help meet expenses. One of them was Mary Magdalene, and in her case it was apparently not just one evil spirit that had been cast out but seven…she seems to have teamed up with Jesus early in the game and stuck with him to the end. And beyond. …she was also one of the ones who was there when they put what was left of him in the tomb.”

Early on in Jesus’ earthly ministry, Mary Magdalene was healed, made whole, transformed. It was so life-changing that she left everything and followed him… We must call her a disciple. She loved and was devoted to Jesus so much that, in the face of fear and pushing the horror aside, she stood near him until he took his last breath. She was with him until it was finished… until he was laid in the grave.

Even in the dead of Friday evening and Saturday… she was ready to go back to follow ritual burial practices and anoint his body with spices. She was still keeping vigil.

She is a tremendous example to us of how someone lives when Christ really transforms their life…of what faithfulness looks like.

Buechner rightly says that Mary comes into sharpest focus on that Sabbath morning she arrived to anoint his body. When she arrives in the dark she finds the grave to be open and empty. In an adrenaline rush she heads to get others… Peter and one other returns and after seeing her words are true, they once again leave.

But Mary, she remains—crying. The grief is multiplied, as she can’t even take care of his body and honor and cherish this one who meant so much.

When the man, whom she assumes to be the gardener, calls her by name and she realizes it is Christ, she is shocked and overjoyed, hurrying to grab onto him.

Buechner says this makes her “not only the first person in the world to have her heart stop beating for a second to find him alive again when she’d thought he was dead as a doornail but the first person also to have her heart break a little to realize that he couldn’t be touched anymore, wasn’t there anymore as a hand to hold onto when the going got tough, a shoulder to weep on, because the life in him was no longer a life she could know by touching it, with her here and him there, but a life she could know only by living it: with her here—and with him here too, alive inside of her life, to raise her up also out of the wreckage of all that was wrecked in her and dead.”

Things were to be different from here on for Mary. And it’s this same way for us. We cannot physically hold onto the Savior. We don’t get to bury our faces into Christ’s shoulder to cry or hold his hand when we are afraid. I know right now these comforts sure sounds like something from which we could benefit.

But Jesus explains to her… he isn’t gone because she can’t touch him.

And he isn’t gone now… because we can’t touch him.

But Christ is here, alive inside of our lives, raising us up from all that is broken and dead.

And, we will only know Jesus Christ by living with and in Christ… waking up to the presence of the Holy One found in every breath we take, through every act of service and love, even in the midst of our fear and sadness.

O God, please… enter into our week, into our lives… Work your ways in us, even as you did for Mary Magdalene, so that we are bound to you in faithfulness and love. May we travel close at your side, finding your presence alive within us and coming forth through us. Give us all we need to journey with you this week, even as you journey with us. Amen.

God Bless and keep you, dear friends.