“But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb.” – John 20:11
It felt like an ending
It seemed like failure
Even her grief was being denied as the body was now gone.
She stands as witness in her tears
She stands faithful and willing to grieve even in this emptiness.
And it is there that the Resurrection will find her.
And she is met, not by avenging angels seeking retribution on those who had perpetrated this violence, nor by trumpeted glory pronouncing the new powers that be and opening of heaven’s gates.
She is met much more simply by a road reopened and hope renewed. This crucified man is before her, present and still bloodied, life transformed rather than denied. The resurrection hope is, like this man Jesus himself, a scandalous and surprising thing. Not at all what we expected, and a hope that continues to confound our ideas and plans.
Even as it has become clear (ish) that God in Jesus has conquered death itself, there is no sudden lurch towards preparing for the afterlife, no doctrinal outline to ensure heavenly membership, not even an explanation of what it is that has taken place.
Instead, Jesus speaks her name. “Mary!”
And she recognises him (teacher!). Relationship is restored. Not otherworldly distance, but
intimacy and acknowledgement. The first act of the resurrected Christ is reconciliation with the one who grieves. “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.” (Matthew 5:4)
She is not left with solely with words of comfort, she is given a task and a vocation. She is included into the coming reconciliation of her whole community – “ go tell the disciples (my brothers) that I am ascending to my Father and your Father, my God and your God”. She is tasked with bringing the wider community back from grief, to be restored in relationship and united in reconciliation. The resurrection, this overcoming of death itself, brings with it relationship and a new vocation – a call to participate in the reconciliation of the whole community. All through witnessing to this man Jesus and what God has done through him.
The great power of the resurrection does not act in the seizing of control, and the overthrowing of one tyrant for another.
It is an invitation. Not to sit back and wait for a prize – but to join in this transforming act of reconciliation – to begin living our salvation now.